Dahlias are truly spectacular plants giving a fantastic show throughout the summer months. There are forty two species of Dahlias and they originate from Mexico. The flowers are not scented but they attract their pollinators through spectacular colours. They come in all colours except blue. Unfortunately it’s not just pollinators that Dahlias attract but also slugs, snails, and the dreaded earwigs. Slugs and snails can be dealt with by using nematodes but the earwigs are a different matter. Earwigs do have an Achilles heel though-they are partial to hiding in dark places nearby during the day and what better place for a hungry earwig to sleep than in a dark corner with a nice bed of straw? So if your dahlias are being eaten alive just get a small flower pot and stuff it with straw. Push a stick in to the straw and turn it upside down. Then just put it near your Dahlias. Check the pot daily for earwigs and shake any residents in to a bucket of soapy water.
The great thing about Dahlias is that they can be quite easily grown from seed. They cannot be planted out until the end of May because Dahlias are not frost hardy. Being tender means that you are going to have to provide a frost free shelter for your plants over the winter. Dahlias grow from tubers. These must be dug out before the first frost. Cut off the growth leaving an inch or so of shoots and leave the tubers to dry. They can then be placed in dry compost in your heated greenhouse over winter. Check every so often that the tubers have not become too dry. However they easily rot if too wet, just lightly moist is the answer. After the late frosts are over the tubers can be planted out the following year. Dahlia tubers can be easily divided to provide more free plants! When planting out make sure that the shoots have started growing before watering or they will rot in the ground if not active.
When choosing a spot for your prized Dahlias go for a sunny position and treat them to some tomato feed every so often to keep them looking their best