Designing with dahlias – the 5 most important tips and tricks!

Create beautiful beds with these opulent, long-flowering flowers

I only came across dahlias after a few years of gardening. Like so many, I was always put off by the lack of winter hardiness and didn’t find the gaudy varieties in the garden centres particularly attractive. When I did try a pastel-coloured variety, I was thrilled and a little shocked at the same time. I had planted a huge dinner plate dahlia and was shocked by the size of the flowers, stems and leaves for two days, then it unfortunately fell victim to a heavy rain. I had not supported it and its oversized flowers were mud.

Planted alone in a tub, it seemed a bit too much. It took me a few more years to use dahlias in the garden in such a way that they became part of a larger whole and integrated perfectly. Here are my ultimate tips from 10 years of experience with these opulent beauties:

1. Small is better

If you have never planted dahlias before, try the smaller flowers first, for example pompom dahlias. They are much less susceptible to weather and require less support. In addition, they do not overwhelm immediately, but blend better into the overall picture.

2. Three is trump

Always plant at least three of a variety, somewhat distributed in the bed. Especially with such opulent flowers as dahlias have, repetition and rhythm are important to create harmony.

3. The best place for dahlias

There are three good places for dahlias in the garden: in a tub, in a bed with perennials or annuals or in an extra dahlia bed. In the tub they are usually very slug-proof, but also need more care and water. They fill gaps in the bed very quickly and sustainably (they flower for up to four months with proper care and pruning!). First, however, make sure that they are not shaded there by larger plants and have enough space to develop (at least 50 cm in diameter). A separate bed is an excellent idea if you have the means. In spring, tulips and daffodils should bloom there, and directly after flowering from mid-May, the dahlias can go into the ground. Stick sticks criss-cross into the bed and stretch strings at a height of 50 cm. This net gives the dahlias the necessary support and will hardly be visible afterwards. For many dahlias this is the easiest way.

4. Less is more

Don’t choose too many varieties! In small gardens, three varieties with three tubers each distributed in the beds would be a good idea. In larger gardens, there may be a little more, but always make sure that there is an uneven number of plants, this will ensure a harmonious appearance.

5. Pre-plant for early flowering

Dahlias flower for months until the first frost if the flowers are cut off regularly. If they are planted frost-free from mid-May, flowering usually starts at the end of July/beginning of August. Try to bring forward at least some of the dahlias. It is so worth it! Simply plant the dahlia in a pot and put it in a frost-free place. This is theoretically possible from March or April. The 1-2 months are so incredibly rewarding. Dahlia flowers at the end of May or June make it easy to bridge the time until the annuals or summer perennials get going.

If you want to know more about caring for dahlias, this is the way to go.

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