dahlia Figaro white petalled with yellow centre



Dahlias are gaining a new popularity as the more simple blooms with an exposed centre are attractive to bees, butterflies and hoverflies. There are many varieties of dahlia and their hybrids. Some are single blooms, others may be semi double, double or cactus. In order to make it easier for wildlife it is best to choose a variety which exposes the central florets. Types such as Figaro, Early bird and Unwins Dwarf Hybrids would fit this criteria. These dahlias are commonly grown as bedding plants. They are shorter than some of the more exotic styles of blooms and are easily grown from seed.

Dahlias originate from Mexico and are frost tender. They are grown as a half hardy annual in the UK but are a half hardy perennial in other parts of the world.

To grow from seed start February to April indoors. Germination takes 7-14 days at temperatures of 20C (68F). The newly emerged plants will be suitable to pot up in 2-3 weeks from emergence. Grow them on at temperatures of around 15C ( 59F). Once established, harden off for 2-3 weeks before planting out after the danger of frost has passed in late May or June.  

They need a sunny site which is well drained but do best when watered regularly. Flowering is from June or July to the first frosts, generally about October time. Before the frosts either cover the tubers with a thick mulch or dig up and bring into a cool frost free place and store in compost.

In the following spring check over tubers to make sure they are firm and not mouldy. Plant in pots to start them off if they will be in the ground, or in situ if in containers. Water lightly in March-April and once new growth is showing then keep the compost moist but not waterlogged. Harden off ready to go outside after the last frost in your area.

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