The eternal question is “to lift or not to lift”. While it may feel like a lot less effort to keep your dahlia tubers in the ground, it will feel like no effort at all if you loose them all. Even those with soil that’s amenable to keeping them in the ground will mulch the top of the tubers, so it’s not no effort at all not to lift them. For the record, on my wet cold Cheshire clay soil, the tubers are always tucked up for winter.
Of course, you’ll need space for boxes to store your most prized tubers, and this is why now is a great moment for deciding what dahlia’s you’re going to keep, and which ones’s you’ll say goodbye too. Who want’s to go to all the time, effort and energy of sorting and storing tubers that you’ll ultimately not want.
I grow dahlia’s in colour palettes, with a minimum of 6, and ideally 10 plants. I know the foliage and colours of my perennials in my cut flower garden, and ideally, I want to have the flexibility to add any of my chosen colour’s of dahlia flower’s to what I have growing already.
The exception to this is if you want to grow a riot of different colours, then grow less of one variety, and more differing colour’s of varieties. The choice is really about what flowers you plan to cut and the look and style you wish to achieve for your bouquets.
On my YouTube channel, I discuss tips for how best to use dahlias to extend your growing season. Dahlias evoke nostalgia and their popularity show’s no sign of slowing down. For a flower grower, this is brilliant news, as dahlias are a really versatile flower, with literally thousands of varieties that are extremely floriferous.
There is one point of note for the enthusiastic grower. Some dahlias are better cut flowers than others.
I adore David Howard and will always grow him for quite sentimental reasons but his vase life is not the longest.
Cafe Au Lait is a beautiful unique colour and although a heavy tricky head to arrange, is so adored by brides, as well as everyone else, that’s also grown here too.
As dahlias really come into their own in Autumn, growing a seasonal autumnal palette makes the ideal use of an apricot/orange that is all around in the fading leaves.
That’s the reason I grow dahlia’s in this orange-hued colour palette:
- Preference – flowers her socks off and a wonderful faded colour
- Cornell Bronze – prolific flowering ball dahlia and really good in storage
- Totally Tangerine – first and last to flower, beautiful smily faces although not the longest lasting in the vase
- Labyrinth – gorgeous dinner plate with a mix of pinks and apricots. The diva that pulls the rest of the colours together
- Cafe Au Lait – the colour of milky coffee that lightens the other oranges
After quite a bit of looking, then a tricky time focusing the list to have less rather than more, the following dahlia’s are the start of my new palette. The advantage too is that they will coordinate well with my original and favourite orange palette:
Russets – Burlesca, Brown Sugar, Mango Madness
Pinks – Wine Eyed Jill, Sweet Natalie, Diana’s Memory
Reds – Karma Choc, Sam Hopkins, Nuit d’Ete
It’s also a great idea to have a few whites. I grow: Petra’s Wedding, One World
A variation in size and form is also really useful to explore. I adore dinner plates but you can have too much of a good thing. Pom poms are just perfect for making flower crowns, and these are my favourite pom pom dahlia varieties:
- Rosemary’s Dawn – a perfect pink just like the sun rising
- Rhonda – bought for it’s name I concede as I was born in Caerphilly in the South Wales valleys but even if you weren’t, its a beautiful cool soft lilac
- Jodie Wilkinson – a lemon lilac – this is an absolutely gorgeous colour
Ultimately, the dahlias you choose are a very personal choice. Careful selction can and does give you a “signature” look. There are practicalities too and to some extent enthusiasm and space will always dictate the extent of anyone’s dahlia collection.
If you don’t grow them, I really believe you’re missing a floral opportunity. Relatively easy, pretty reliable and the last flower standing in my paddock at the end of the growing season, if there’s one thing I can level at them, it’s their lack of scent. I for one will forgive them for that.
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