This is an amazing time of year, Gardeners, when we can decide on the path our gardens will take in the coming months. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they. But let’s pledge to do this: plant at least one new thing, and plant something that will attract bees and pollinators.
Some very dear friends gifted us with dahlia bulbs at Easter; to me, they are a glorious gardening mystery! We plant these odd-shaped tubers, and from them come the beautiful dahlia blooms, whether the dinner plate dahlias or the poms or the spiders. The shapes of the flowers, and the vibrant colors, are simply breathtaking.
So make some tea, sit down with me, and let’s learn together about how to plant these beauties. The instructions on the package tell us that we should plant the tubers after the last frost in loose, well-drained soil. Dahlias like full sun to partial shade. We should plant them with the crown ( the centre or neck of the tuber) of the tubers, about two inches below soil, and we should plant them about two feet apart. Then we water and wait for the magic to happen!
Something for us to keep in mind: we have to be careful not to overwater. The tubers can rot if the soil is very soggy. A bit of water to settle the tubers into the soil is good, but not too much moisture until they are on their way!
Once they have started growing, we should take a deep breath and pinch the shoot tips; as difficult as this is for us to do, it will encourage our plants to become fuller. We can do this after two or three sets of leaves are formed, and then we can do it a few weeks later again. I know it seems like we are taking away the growth that we are so anxiously awaiting, but we have to keep the future picture in mind: a full, lush dahlia plant!
Dahlias will bloom for us all summer, but we have to be mindful that they drink a lot of water through the season, and will also appreciate a regular dose of low nitrogen ( the first number) fertilizer, such as 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer every three or four weeks. But again, caution is important: too much fertilizer will cause poor blooms and tuber rot.
Once our dahlias are blooming, regular deadheading will encourage even more gorgeous blooms. We could even try “disbudding” which is removing the smaller buds around a larger bud. We’ll have fewer flowers, but the ones that are left will be larger.
In the fall, once the leaves die back, we will dig out the tubers, let them dry, then store them in a cool spot in the basement in a paper bag or a box with peat moss.
There are so many varieties of dahlias, in all sizes, so you will find the perfect one for you, whether it is to plant out in the garden or in a container. They will be a feast for the eyes all summer!
The next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Wednesday, May 15 at 7PM at SIGN on North Street. It will be the famous “Iron Gardener” event! Everyone is welcome; you don’t have to be a member to come to the meeting. While you are planning this year’s garden, log on to www.cheerios.ca and sign up for free seeds to encourage bees to visit your yard.
This weekend is Mother’s Day; Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms and nurturing women who make the world a more caring place, and Moms no longer with us. Mom, I send you all my love, and thank you for the blessing of your love. Have a beautiful heavenly day. Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca and have a great week!