Growing Dahlias, a true passion
I feel an incredible sense of joy and satisfaction when I see my dahlias on show at Punnet - it gives me purpose for growing them, seeing them brighten so many people’s day.
With having young children and working, I sometimes find I don’t have a lot of me-time. I think that’s why I started gardening as it's something I can do at home when my kids are asleep, and it’s something I can do for myself.
I am only into my second year of growing Dahlias and as an amateur flower gardener. All my life, I have loved growing veggies, and I have been fortunate to grow up with a mother who is super enthusiastic about the garden, veggies and flowers.
Mum’s philosophy to gardening is one of just giving it a go and not taking yourself too seriously - something that can be applied to all aspects of life. If it works out, great; if not, try something else next year. Gardening it's all about learning and a lot of trial and error. You just have to make a start somewhere and start from there.
I got very into flower gardening over lockdown last year, dahlias in particular. I went a little crazy (didn't we all) and had about 50 dahlia tubers turn up in Spring for me to plant. The process for planting is very simple and straightforward. Trust me; anyone can do it.
You dig a hole, drop in the tuber and away you go. Dahlias are super self-sufficient and don't even require much water. So I would recommend dahlias for beginners!
Tips and Tricks
My one word of advice would be to take good care of your soil and make sure you are putting lots of good stuff in it. There are local places selling horse manure on the side of the road. We have extra coffee grounds at Punnet, and sheep pallets from any gardening shop will do the trick. I simply dig in horse manure, coffee grounds and sheep pallets a few weeks before planting the tubers. Once the shoots poke through the ground and you see leaves developing, you can start to water them. I’m a fan of a seaweed-based fertilizer to boost the plants. My other little tip would be to pinch the top of your dahlias once they have about 3-4 sets of leaves; trust me, I know it sounds super counterproductive, but the result is more potent and sturdy plants that continue to provide flowers all season long.
The varieties I have loved this year are: Jowey Winnie, Jomanda, Cafe au lait, Cornel, and the classic white aster is super versatile.
I will pull up my tubers and keep them safe over winter. I believe it’s not completely necessary. I’m just a fan of dividing and sharing dahlias with your friends. I think it's such a special gift to give someone; a few friends have gifted me dahlias this year, and I have loved watching them grow, and it always makes me think of that special friend. I would love to start a community-sharing event to come together, and trade/share our tubers in the community. Next time, let me know if this is something you are interested in. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am already excited about my tubers for next season. I have learnt a lot this year about what flowers I enjoy and what ones I don't - also what ones get the most comments and attention at Punnet!