Its late summer and you've successfully brought (or bought) your dahlia plants into bloom! Congratulations! Reading this without a blooming dahlia in sight? No worries! We've got you covered for next year! Sometime between next March and May check out our blog posts on growing dahlias and you'll be harvesting blooms in no time!
Below you will find helpful tips to get the most out of your dahlia from now until the first frost.
Remove the lower leaves. Strip plants of the lower 6 inches of leaves (if they are over 2 feet tall), otherwise remove the lower 1/3 of leaves. This will help increase airflow, dissuade pests, and prevent fungus and mold and developing on your plants. It will also direct all the important growing energy to the flowers.
Fertilize with compost tea or Neptune Fish Fertilizer (also available on Amazon but Gardener's is gardener owned so - props to them!) Feeding your plant right now is important because it is busy pumping out the blooms and you don't want it to stop! Adding fertilizer or compost tea will also ensure the most vibrantly colored blooms. *It is important to note that in general dahlias do not need or like a lot of fertilizer and feeding the plant too much BEFORE it begins to bloom can lead to all leaves and no flowers so be sure to wait and only use mild and natural fertilizers like those suggested above.
Disbud side shoots - this is maybe even harder than pinching your plants early on but it is super important. Often times dahlias will produce 2-3 buds on the same stem. Allowing all three to develop is wonderful in the garden but if you plan to cut your dahlias you will end up loosing a bud or two anyway depending on when you harvest. Plus, these buds keep all the others from growing to maximum bloom size. Honestly, all those fancy photos (I'll put one below) with tiny people holding giant dinner plant dahlias where produced by allowing the plant to only grow one giant bloom. I'm not suggesting you go to such extremes - we want LOTS of flowers from our plants - but we also want some larger blooms too. So pinch of those sideshoots and nurture one stunning bloom per stem.
Harvest, harvest, harvest. Some people call this dead heading but that sounds gross and only means you let the flowers go too long before cutting them - which runs the risk of sending the plant into seed production. I prefer to cut my dahlias when they are at their prime and can be enjoyed in the vase for up to a week. At this point in the summer, the more you harvest the more plant will bloom and after all those weeks and weeks of work to get to this point, its time to enjoy some flowers!
Next up! Splitting and storing your dahlias.
But don't even worry about that until the first frost!