Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Thursday, April 30, 2015

For the Love of Dahlias

Oh dahlias, how I love you. For a professional and hobby plant nerd, picking a favorite plant is near impossible. I just could never do it. However, for certain dahlias are in my top 10 favorite flowers. They are just so beautiful in the summer garden. Their blooms are a favorite of brides everywhere.

Several years ago I started with just one dahlia variety, hollyhill black widow. She’s a beautiful dark deep burgundy red. I wore her in my hair and in my bridal bouquet when I was married. She is very special to me and was my entry into the world of dahlias. The year I got married I asked my 3 best friends to grow dahlias in their gardens to use in our centerpieces. I am confident that also hooked them on growing dahlias.

In my small yard with limited sunny space I’ve managed to squeeze in these other varieties: fire magic, John Kaizer and little scotti. I loved fire magic so much I accidentally planted it twice in my small flower bed! When there was no more room for dahlias in the ground I found a sunny spot for 2 containers. This year I’m experimenting growing dahlias in pots. I choose varieties Margaret Duross and Elijah Mason. I'm not sure if they will thrive in a pot. I was concerned the tall plants would become top heavy, so I have wedged the pots together to support each other and I plan on giving them some cage support as they grow. I'll let you know how it works.

I buy all my dahlias tubers from Old House Dahlias here in Portland. Mark is super knowledgeable and his selection is mind blowing.

Watch his video here to learn about planting dahlias.

Here are some tips for planting dahlias in Portland:

-Dahlias need soil temperatures consistently at 60 degrees. In Portland this is typically April-May.
-Plant in full or part sun. My dahlias are thriving in an area that gets dappled morning sun followed by hot afternoon sun.
-Dahlias need well-drained soil so they don't rot out in the wet clay Portland native soil. Amend your ground soil with compost, sand or aged manure.
-Dahlias are large plants that need to be spaced at least 2 feet apart from other plants.
-Plant tubers on their side 4-6 inches deep.
-Do not water tubers until they sprout.
-Dahlias like a low nitrogen fertilizer. I use fox farm big bloom liquid fertilizer.

For more information on planting, growing, and dividing dahlias see the Old House Dahlia website.

It is perfect weather to start planting your dahlias in Portland. So pick some new varieties and get growing.
Happy Gardening,

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