Plant a dahlia to make your garden smile

I am a huge fan of dahlias. You can put them on any spot in the garden to fill empty spaces and gaps, and they bring lots of joy with tremendous flowers, that also do well in a vase. They make your garden or balcony and your home SMILE. I talked to Marlies and Linda, two Dutch dahlia pro’s, to learn a bit more about this happy natural jewel.

Dahlia’s fit in a garden, but also do well in (larger) planters on your balcony. Just give it a try. You will be amazed. The flowers keep up the spirit from June and July till frost is arriving, so that might be late October.

Listen to Marlies and Linda, from the family company Fam Flowerfarm. They are located in Lisse, in one of the oldest and most famous flower growers area in The Netherlands. In March and April they are busy with daffodils and tulip bulbs, right now it is dahlias they are taking care of in this town.

dahlia pro's
Dahlia pro’s Linda and Marlies.

“Our great-grandfather already grew dahlias, so it’s in our genes. Our dahlia tubers are sold all over the world, especially in Germany, France, the US and Canada. Plus we cut the flowers fresh from the land in the summer months. We count about 180 different cultivars. Exclusive are our ‘dinnerplates’: flowers the size of a real dinnerplate, reaching 8-12″ across. Part of our dinnerplate-range are the varieties Lady Darlene, Nick Sr. and Vassio Meggos.”

“In recent years, dahlias have become hip again and this trend is also noticeable in the demand.”

dahlia
Happy pictures of Fam Flowerfarm.

“In spring, we first make cuttings in the greenhouse. These cuttings are planted on the land one by one after what we call the Ice Saints, that is after May 14. After this date in The Netherlands we are sure that night frost is over.”

dahlia

What about the fact that cutting off flowers helps to get more bloom, is that true? Sounds a bit frightening after all the care I gave to a plant to grow up.

Marlies reassures: “It’s not scary to cut flowers, the more flowers you cut, the more flowers come back. On the side shoots, new flowers will appear naturally. Ideal, so you can enjoy the flowers inside the house and outside in the garden.”

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Marlies with a bunch of dahlia tubers.

When do you get the dahlia tubers out of the ground?

Marlies and Linda: “We start rooting in mid October, preferably after the first night frost, but before the frost really enters into the ground. A dahlia can not bear a frost.”

Is it possible to divide dahlia tubers into two after the season?

“Between the tuber and the collar are some eyes, only the tubers that are cut with an eye, you can plant again the following year. There are usually fewer eyes than tubers present.”

The magnificent Lady Darlene, a ‘dinnerplate’ queen.

Have you got some more dahlia tips?

“A dahlia can be planted in many soil types, but not too wet soil. A sunny spot in the garden is important to get lots of beautiful flowers.”

“Do not fertilize too much, because then green leaf and less flowers will come. A dahlia likes moist soil, but not from a wet soil.”

How about slugs and snails? Do you have a tip? I have one dahlia that is completely eaten down by them…

“You can put some shells, egg shells, pine needles or nut heads together around the plants against the foot of the plant. This gives your snails no chance of crawling upwards.”

And I have a tip too: make beer traps: dig in a plastic cup with cheap beer and the slugs and snails will fall in because they like the smell of the alcoholic hop.”

Bulbs and Tubers

My tip: plant a lot, vary with colours and forms, go for total kitsch!

Bulbs and Tubers

Pompon dahlia, amazing form. How can a flower look like this?

Bulbs and Tubers

New pack that I bought at Hema. And I also bought some at garden fair Tuinidee… not that I have a large garden… But I love them so much, I just make them fit in.

Planted them all this year, some of them ahead in my temporary glasshouse (aka: my office and my attic :-), some of them right in the ground. Just to experiment what is working best. Now I can say: putting the tubers in an indoor pot in March works great. It is fun to see the pkants grow and by May 14 most of them are already too big to be totally destroyed by the slugs, which happened to all of my plants last year…

Another idea is to buy dahlia plants at the garden center. They’re available right now.

Bulbs and TubersBulbs and Tubers

Spider dahlias…

Which dahlia have you spotted in some garden? How’s your own dahlia doing? Show me your pictures with the hashtag #spreadnaturelove so I can find them.

Tips for some dahlia sightseeing in The Netherlands

In certain parts of The Netherlands, the local flower growers are adorning carriages with millions of colorful dahlias in a so called Flower Corso. Thousands of volunteers are building these impressive spectacles every year.

Those two show events are on the National inventory list of Immaterial Cultural Heritage:

  • Zundert, a town in the Southern part of The Netherlands, organises a Flower Corso on the first Sunday of September (In 2017 that’s September 3 & 4). On this website you find the details.
  • Lichtenvoorde, a town in the Eastern part of the country, organises a Flower Corso on the second Sunday of September (in 2017 that’s September 10). Visit the website to learn more about this spectacle. Around Lichtenvoorde there’s also cycling routes along dahlia fields.

There is also a Flower Corso in Vollenhove on August 26. See this website.