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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for growing dahlia varieties, large and small

Autumnal image of garden dahlias in full bloom
Maria Mosolova
Getty Images
Dahlias start out slowly in our cool spring soils, but pick up speed in summer. By August they put on quite a flower show.

If you're looking for a mid- to- end of summer splash in your flower garden, grow dahlias. This tuber starts out slowly in our cool spring soils, but picks up speed in summer. By August, whether you grow the small, low growing types or the large dinner plate dahlias, they all put on quite a flower show.

Dahlias are not hardy in our cool Connecticut soils, so they need to be replanted each year. Wait until the soil warms to plant. Dahlias thrive in full sun on fertile, well-drained soils.

The key to where you plant dahlias lies in which types you grow. Dahlia varieties come in a range of colors and can be low growing, or up to 5 feet tall. There are more than 20 different dahlia flower shapes with the most common being the pom-pom, water lily, cactus, and decorative ones. The larger types benefit from staking or caging to keep them upright. They have tender stalks that are susceptible to flopping and even breaking during summer storms.

Dahlias make great cut flowers. Pick them in the morning, place the stem in 2 inches of very hot water and allow it to cool for an hour. They’ll last for up to one week.

In fall, after frost has blackened the stems, cut them back and dig up the tubers to over- winter indoors. Clean off the soil, and store them in a dark, cool basement in slightly moistened sand or peat moss. Check periodically in winter to see if the tubers are drying out or rotting. Mist with water or dry them out depending on the situation.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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