If you want your neighbors to think you’re an award-winning gardener, try planting dahlias in your garden this year. Just when everything else starts to show the strain of midsummer, dahlias begin a showstopping performance that lasts through the Autumn. Dahlias need just a little bit of special care in some climates, but the rewards far outweigh the work.
Plant Right - Good solid tubers with visible eye(s). Plant when soil warms up, tubers with an eye, with growth, or cuttings, plant about 4" deep.
Good Soil - A good amount of compost material, lime to a pH of 6.5 to 7, lime every year. Fertilizer, a good broadcast worked into the soil, or a handful worked into the planting hole, to start the season. The correct type of fertilizer is 6-12-12 . Water mid season with 20-20-20 soluble.
Space Right - Give them room to grow. 2' Grid - Single tuber to a stake. 3' Grid - Some varieties 2 tubers to a stake. 4' Grid - Any 2 Tubers to a stake.
Grow Right - Top Dress with 6-12-12 fertilizer and hill tubers to 6" to &" depth. Tie Dahlia growth to stake when about 18" high. Use twist method which allows for stock growth. Disbranch on AA's and A's remove every other lateral, best on stake side, on B's only remove laterals on late varieties. Disbud always and do it early. Spray with chemicals of your choice to keep insects under control. Your enemies are the tarnish plant bug, earwigs, aphids and a host of others.
Cut Right - Cut cool, early morning or evening. Here is where all that spraying, watering and deadheading pays off. Cut your show entries so that you have - A flower. A stem. A set of leaves. A stock. Put in water as soon as possible and keep in cool place.