Sunday, 16 August 2015

Growing Dahlias from seed

Dahlias and cake - the perfect recipe in the kitchen
One of the first plants I remember buying as a child was Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'.  Its beautiful crimson flowers coupled with dark leaves and stems made for a dazzling sight and I guess the Welsh connection did't go amiss either.  Dahlias have always had a place in my garden since then but I'd not tried growing them from seed up until this year and I was very surprised to see just how easy this can be.

I've always grown Dahlias from tubers as this was a straightforward and affordable option given that I've not had the space needed to grow things from seed, aside from the odd vegetable crop and even these struggled on windowsills.  With the beginnings of the new garden and with the addition of a greenhouse it seemed as though the time was right to try and grow them from seed at least.
A closer view
I started back in the spring by sowing in seed trays in the greenhouse.  I chose Dahlia 'Clangers Mix' as I quite like the cactus types and a bit of variation for the vase.  Dahlia seed requires no special treatment - simply sow thinly in multipurpose compost, cover lightly, water and then wait for the little green shoots to appear.  Prick them out and pot on or add to modules once the true leaves have developed and then plant out after hardening off when all signs of frost have passed.  It really is that simple.
Just planted and rather weedy
I planted my dahlias in the cutting garden with the Foxgloves,  Calendula, Zinnias, Sweet Peas and other goodies and they really have romped away.  I was concerned that the rather small seedlings would succumb to all sorts of trouble but bar the odd trampling by the dogs, cat and escaped horse they've not faired too badly.  So far this month I've taken three or four cuts and as soon as the blooms have faded in the home there always seems to be more on the way.  

I hope to lift the tubers of these plants in the Autumn and then further extend the range of plants on offer by sowing more seed next year to add more variation and fill in the colour gaps as I seem to have largely an orange and red palette with the odd bit of pink thrown in.

Here's to the Dahlia!


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