Dahlias are often perceived as an integral part of the traditional cottage garden. In fact your typical village flower show would be sadly lacking without dedicated amateurs displaying their prized dahlia blooms.
However, all is not as it seems as Dahlias are about as English as Turkish delight. Why? Because the Dahlia genus originates from tropical and subtropical Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. This of course explains why Dahlias are not frost hardy and need to be lifted and dried off under protection each year in most northern European climates.
Although pot-grown and flowering Dahlia cultivars can be purchased early on in the summer, you will find that there will be a far larger selection of pre-packed, bare root tubers to choose from in late January onwards.
While dahlia tubers can be purchased the very depths of winter don't be fooled into thinking that it is an appropriate time to plant. You must either leave them in their packets and wait until the threat of frosts has passed or pot them on and grow them in a protective environment until they can be planted outside in their final position.
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Dahlias will grow best in a well drained soil in an open, sunny position. You can enrich poor soil by digging in plenty of well-rotted farm manures some weeks before planting. Rake in 4 oz of bone meal per sq yard at planting time. Be aware that feeding over the summer can encourage your dahlias to produce foliage above flowers. Tall cultivars may well need support in place and this should be put in position at the time of planting to prevent root damage later on .
Water freely during the heat of the summer and deadhead frequently as this will help to encourage future blooms.
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