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Winter Dahlia Care
I always think of gardening as a four-dimensional occupation, as you are always having to plan ahead and think of time and space. As a flower farmer, one of the most rewarding flowers I grow are dahlias. It’s like growing a party for every day of the week whether you are looking for delicate pastels or a vibrant fiesta. Party planning starts in January with websites, catalogues and spreadsheets full of colours and shapes. The tubers are potted up in April in the greenhouse where they are grown until hardening off in May, with planting out into good humus rich soil in early June when the frosts have finished.
Preparing Tubers for Storage
I am embarrassed to admit that I have left my dahlia care a little late this year. I dug them up in late November (following a prompt from my father and a visit armed with spade and wellies). Since then the tubers sat in a wheelbarrow in the greenhouse, and in tubs and crates in the garage. I made sure that I kept the frost off them. Over the last couple of weeks I have been preparing the tubers for storage.
For each tuber, I clean off as much soil as possible, trim off the straggly roots and cut the stems down to 5 or 10 cm. This really helps to tidy them up and makes them much more manageable when it comes to dividing them. Sometimes the tubers come apart easily if I twist them. A lot of the time, it’s a wrestling match, especially with the big masses of tubers. I do a lot of looking for the perfect dividing point and sometimes I just have to cut them in half and hope. If they look challenging, I leave them for a while and come back to it.
After that, I cut them in halves or quarters so that I end up with a couple of tubers attached to part of a stem. Potting up will commence in April and shoots should appear on the stem parts where the tuber is attached. It’s really important to have a section of stem because that’s where the new shoots come from. If I’m lucky I should get a few good plants from each one dug up. I hope that the photos show you what I was able to do.
If you grow dahlias, or would like, there are so many to choose from. Plan what you would like and have some fun. Dahlias are great for weddings and other events, for your own house and for bouquets for friends. They are easy to grow and immensely rewarding.
If you'd like to find out more about La-Di Dardy Flowers, you can find them on Instagram or go to https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/members/la-di-dardy-flowers