Dahlias are one of the longest flowering plants starting in the summer months and carrying on until the autumn frosts, and have been named as the HTA?s Plant of the Month for July.
It provides a long season of fabulous garden colour in late summer as other flowering plants begin to fade and can be grown in both beds and patio pots if space is limited.
The Dahlia has an interesting history. The first tubers arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century, sent over to Madrid by the Spanish settlers in Mexico. Andreas Dahl after whom the plant is named, regarded it as a vegetable rather than a garden flower. The first flowering cultivars were bred in Belgium and in Victorian times many cultivars were listed.
Today it is the large decorative and cactus flowered cultivars which capture the gardening public?s imagination and their popularity is on the up. The plants range from the dwarf bedding types to the giant cactus flowered heads of magnificent flowers which adorn gardens in the late summer and early autumn. Some flower heads can be as small as 25mm and others can be the size of dinner plates.
Dahlias flower from July through to the first hard frosts of the autumn and have a variety of uses. They can be used as both bedding plants and borders plants. Dahlias can be added to a mixed border alongside herbaceous perennials like Phlox, Monarda, Aster and Sedum. If you have the space to dedicate to a border of just dahlia, then they can be displayed in their full glory.
A rockery of dwarf cultivars can be an interesting alternative to extend the season. They can also be grown as cut flowers and often feature on the show benches at local horticultural society shows.? Varieties include Karma Fuschiana & Happy Single Wink, Bishop of Llandaff, Mystic Desire, Mystic Dreamer, Mystic Enchantment and Mystic Illumination.
Dahlia will thrive in a well drained loam, with plenty of sunlight.? When growing dahlias, staking will be beneficial for the taller growing types and good mulch will not go amiss in preventing weeds and preserving moisture. They can tolerate a little shade but do best in a well prepared border. Stakes and string, ties are all required to support the larger dahlias. Be on the watch for slugs and snails when you first plant then out after all danger of frost has passed.
Nominated and agreed upon by British growers and retailers, the HTA?s Plant of the Month campaign highlights the plants that are widely available and looking especially good each month.
For more details about Plant of the Month, please visit www.the-hta.org.uk/plantofthemonth ?