February is a great time to start planting dahlia tubers and sowing seeds for a dazzling display this summer and autumn.
Dahlias are benefiting from a revived trend with their fun decorative heads, spiky petals and round pom-pom like features that come in a plethora of colours from bright reds to pastel pinks. They last really well as cut flowers too and have earned lots of enthusiast.
The require rich organic matter mixed into the soil and are thirsty plants that need well watering in a prolonged dry spell, but do well in sunny spots.
‘David Howard’ – Miniature with orange flowers and dark purple-bronzed foliage. Height 100cm
‘Bishop’s Children’ – prettily dissected bronze foliage single flowers in mainly reds, oranges, yellows and gold. Perfect for borders. Height 1m
‘Dandy’ – a bold blend of contrasting colours on main petals with a ring of shorter petals around the eye. Height 60cm
‘Ambition’ – bright purple spikey cactus like petals. Height 1m
‘Con Amore’ – magenta crimson red petals. Height 1m
‘Downham Royal’ – small neat ball flower head in a rich purple. Height 1.1m
‘Thomas A. Edison’ – large flower heads in a dark shade of purple. Height 1m
‘Sam Hopkins’ –A rich dark red with almost black velvety centre. Height 1m
‘Jescot Julie’ – warm shades of apricot, yellow and red, double flowered petals. Height 40cm
‘Jowey Mirella’ – a neat ball flower head in bold chocolaty claret colour. Height 1m
When to sow?
Bedding Dahlias which last for one season and are fairly easy to grow from seed in March to April. Longer lasting perennial dahlias should be sown in February or March as they need a longer growing season to give them plenty of time to form tubers.
Sowing from seed
Fill a seed tray with seed compost such as Westland John Innes Seed Sowing Compost and firm it down
Scatter the seeds thinly over the surface and cover lightly with a layer of sieved compost
Water and allow to drain
Cover over the seeds tray with a propagator lid, cling film or a sheet of glass and place on a bright windowsill indoors. Alternatively place in a heated propagator.
Ensure you keep the compost moist throughout
Prick out the seedlings into individual small pots when they are large enough to handle and grow under cover
Once their roots start to fill the pots, give them a diluted tomato feed such as Westland Big Tom once a week
Harden off the young plants thoroughly before planting them outside, these flowers are ideal to plant in beds, borders or large containers around late May.
You should start to get flowers from Mid-July all the way through to November
All 3 methods of growing dahlias: seed, tubers and cuttings will produce perennial plants that can be cut down, dug up and tubers dried off and store in November.