I love to bring cut flowers into the house and dahlias provide a beautiful supply all summer. In my southern California garden, the dahlias return every year from their slumbering underground tubers. The foliage first pokes through the soil in late spring with the first flowers appearing in late June/early July. And spectacular flowers they are! If you have never tried them or have only planted the dwarf varieties, definitely try the taller ones. There are so many varieties, classified by type of bloom (decorative, cactus, pom pom, ball, to name a few).
To plant now, purchase one gallon plants which will soon or already be blooming. But to save money and get more variety, next year purchase tubers in early spring. Plant the tubers after danger of frost has passed, the same time you would plant tomatoes. The taller varieties need to be staked so place a 3 – 4 foot stake next to the tuber at time of planting. This also helps you remember exactly where they are while you wait for the foliage to appear. Plant in full sun, add fertilizer to planting hole, give moderate water, and bait for snails as they will decimate the emerging foliage. Then wait for the spectacular flowers which will keep coming until frost. In my zone 9 garden, I leave the tubers in the ground over winter, but in colder areas, lift and store over winter then replant in spring.
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