A star of a summer garden, for sure. Dahlia’s roots track back to Mexico and Central America. Dahlias are beautiful as a bedding flower, are extremely popular as a cut flower, and are best planted outdoors once no more frost is forecast.

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Dahlias come in a wide range of colours, sizes, and shapes and make a vibrant and joyful addition to sunny borders all summer and autumn.

From tight balls to plate-sized lilies, they come in a dazzling array of flower shapes, colours and sizes. They are a good choice for late summer colours in cottage, wildlife, and other styles of gardens, looking their absolute best fromuly to October.

Smaller varieties will happily grow in pots.

Dahlias make good cut flowers and benefit from being cut in order to prolong flowering. Although stunningly beautiful, the more complex-shaped varieties aren't very popular amongst bees and birds. Include some simpler flowers in addition, if you want to attract pollinators.

The Dahlia plant comes from central America and was first brought to Europe by the Spanish as a food source. Obviously it was decided that it is far too beautiful to eat and has been cultivated as an ornamental ever since. It requires plenty of sunlight to thrive and is tender, making it vulnerable to frost in the winter.

Planting

To increase soil fertility and help them thrive, dig a hole about a foot across and add a little well-rotted organic matter. To improve drainage in clay soil, you can also add some pea gravel to the bottom before adding fertiliser. They like to spread themselves out so it's best to plant them around 2ft apart and don't let anything encroach too far on them.

Growing Dahlias

In order to thrive, they benefit from full sun. Dahlias aren't fussy growers otherwise and don't require a particular soil. If you want to achieve the greatest result, cultivate them in any fertile, moist but well-drained soil. It will help if you add some organic matter to the soil, such as well-rotted manure or a quality, peat-free multi-purpose compost for growing dahlias in pots.

Caring for Dahlias

When the plant is about 20 cm tall, pinch out the growing tip to encourage more flowering side shoots. Use a sharp knife to cut off the main shoot (growing upright at the top between the top pair of leaves) or pinch off with your thumb and forefinger.

To prolong the flowering of dahlias, deadheading is advisable and you should remove the stem of the finished flower when you do this. Note that the buds are round and spent flowers are more elongated, so be careful not to remove the wrong part.

Are Dahlias Perennials?

Dahlias can be considered annual or perennial, depending on your location and indeed, the variety of the plants themselves. Most of the UK is classed as Hardiness Zone 7, which means that as long as you mulch with plenty of bark or organic matter over winter (roughly 8cm), your dahlias will overwinter and come back next year. If you have room, storing them over winter is a better guarantee, particularly in less sheltered areas with colder winters.

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