A Dahlia a day ...

My fascination continues with Dahlias. These colourful flowers are grown from tubers every year and provide such interest and colour for everyone to enjoy, regardless of taste - there is at least one for everyone! Over recent years I have been adding varieties to my little collection. Where once it was just 'Bishop of Llandaff', now I have a wide range of colours and types. You can see the range expanding when you take a look at my YouTube vid from April. This was where I was demonstrating how to plant them and start them off in pots. 

This year, since setting and growing them, I've been well rewarded with colour and flowers. In June we saw the earliest flowers appear. These were Dahlia 'Onesta', which were set in March, and came on pretty quickly. The later set varieties have been coming along very nicely over July and particularly in August, with most of them flowering at this point.It's hard to pick a favourite, although I think 'Labyrinth' pips the others to the post this year with it's orange to pink petals in a large ruffled shape. It's been enthralling to watch the flowers go through their cycle from bud burst to petals falling. Definitely a winner. It is true to say that slugs and snails are a problem for these. As I've mentioned before in others posts, I'm a fan of beer traps and night patrols in order to help control the mollusc population. Unfortunately, where Dahlia's are concerned, these tactics are not enough, particularly where the young fresh shoots are concerned. These tend to attract visitors from miles around. So, I break out the heavy weapons and apply the slug pellets that are approved for organic food growing use. Of course  have mentioned before how important hygiene is when growing young plants, and these are no different. 

Remove clutter and old leaf litter where our munching friends may decide to hide during the day time, and always repot tubers into fresh compost in spring to get them off to a flying start. Once the plants are of a reasonable size, I plant them into beds that have been well enriched, as Dahlias require a very good growing medium to get the best out of them. During summer regularly dead head them and give them feeds of tomato (or other high potash) feed, and enjoy. In autumn, I bed them back down for winter using trays and covering the tubers with sharp sand. You can see how I do it here in this short video clip. 

Also this year, I was quite please to have grown reasonable decent size Dahlia plants from seeds. I sowed ten modules in march and ended up with six plants. That's not bad going considering I lost most Dahlia seedlings to slugs and snails over the past two years. The seedlings I've chosen to grow are open flowers, which encourage the bees and other insects, unlike some of the larger blooms, which are just to full petalled for them. 

Finally, if you are on social media, check out the these hash tags, I'm sure you will  see yours truly pop up in more than one or two posts: #DahliaLove, #DahliaWars, #DahliaWars2017 and #DazzlingDahlias 

If you haven't grown these before, purchase some tubers in your local garden centre in the middle of next spring, and give them a go. 

 For now though, happy gardening.