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Dahlias darling or dastardly!

  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!
  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!
  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!
  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!
  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!
  • Dahlias darling or dastardly!

Named after the Swedish botanist Dr. Anders Dahl, and originating from Central America, Dahlias are a bit of a Marmite plant; a love/hate thing. I think in the right context they can be a great addition to the late summer/autumn garden and I think they look particularly elegant in planters, in more formal gardens and in tropical style garden plantings where their bright colours can be framed by lush foliage plants. They are also excellent cut flowers.

Here are my delightful Dahlia tips!

Right position

Pick a sunny spot with good humus-rich soil.


Stake them before they flower - I usually break old canes into appropriate sized lengths (approx 50cms) and tie each stem in with garden twine.


Do this frequently to keep the plant flowering. The spent blooms are cone-shaped, unlike the new flower buds, which are round.

Winter care

When the plant has finished, after cutting the stems to the base, you can either, Option A, mound up some compost over the tubers and mark them with one of your stakes (remove their 'bedding' when the frosts are over, sometime in May) or, Option B, dig the tubers up, shake off the soil and store in a dark, dry, frost free place and then replant them (again, sometime in May). If you have a lot of badgers or squirrels, or wet soil over winter (in which the tubers may rot) you might want to opt for Option B!

Random Factoid

You can eat the tubers (peeled and steamed) and the flowers (raw) should you want to!

Comments (4)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Wow! I wasn't sure I liked Dahlias, but those fluorescent, red Dahlias with almost black leaves are amazing. Are they Dahlia 'Preston Park'? Being single flowered, they don't have that slightly fancy 'Elizabethan ruff' effect of other Dahlias. Apparently the RHS concur (at least about 'Preston Park') and gave it an Award of Garden Merit. Respect.

  2. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I think those red ones are actually the far more common D. 'Bishop of Llandaff' which are technically 'semi-double' and also have an AGM. But really funky nevertheless!

  3. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    You're right, I should have looked closer - two rows of petals. I now read that 'Bishop of Llandaff' was a very popular introduction in the 1920s and gave rise to several other 'Bishop' varieties. in fact there are over 20,000 varieties of Dahlia - help! And I struggled identifying one.

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    I love black foliage, so Bishop of Llandaff is a favourite of mine.

    Down here in South Oxfordshire, for the past few years, I've found that Dahlias have survived the winter underground - I think they fell out of favour due to all that faff of having to dig them up, dry them, dust with fungicide (theatrical coughing and hacking in background) then store them in such a way that they didn't either go mouldy, or dessicate. So being able to just leave them in the ground has, I think, contributed to their rise in popularity.

    Personally I'm thrilled that they're getting popular again, as I love them! Such good value,they flower for months on end, lovely bright colous - what's not to like?

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