Here’s another summer flower that you need to buy and plant in the spring. Dahlias produce flowers from midsummer until frost, and, oh my, the colors: red, pink, burgundy, white, coral, yellow, purple. There are even bi-colors. The more you cut them, the more they flower. So, they’re great for the cut flower garden and in beds. Dahlias like full sun, but they will do well even with a half-day’s supply. They need good drainage. Dahlias should be planted outdoors after danger of frost has passed. In western Pennsylvania, that’s May 23.
Taller varieties should be planted in cages or with stakes and wire, as they will require support to hold the flowers. For nice, bushy plants, pinch the main shoot after the plant has produced about 3 to 4 pairs of good, strong leaves. Blooms can be forced into larger sizes by pinching off smaller buds and forcing energy into the remaining blooms.
In areas where it freezes in winter, tubers should be carefully dug in the fall after frost kills the foliage. Cut the stalks about 6 inches above the tuber, wash them off, and let them dry thoroughly. Then place tubers in dry sand, peat moss or sawdust. Store in a cool, dry location until spring.
Barbara Wittman Alsip was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, of German, Austrian and Prussian grandparents. Her father was a horticulturist, (Texas A&M, Class of 1919), and her mother was active in garden clubs and flower growing. She has two grown sons and two grandsons.
She received her BA and MA in French and Spanish from Texas Christian University and her PhD in French from Emory University. She taught at the university level for a number of years.
At her first home in western Pennsylvania, she had 165 trees, evergreens, flowering trees, perennials, herbs and annuals. She is looking forward to landscaping, with Bedner’s direction and help, at her new home.