This gorgeous bloom is a MUST for any Cape garden

Cape Cod Life  /  April 2019 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner

Dreaming of Dahlias

Set the stage for a spectacular garden with 2019’s Bulb of the Year

There’s no better way to breath new life into your garden than through the intricate, shape and vibrant color of a dahlia. In 2019, this colorful flower is getting some well-deserved time in the spotlight as the National Garden Bureau’s “Bulb of the Year.” This show stopping bloom exists in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and while not the hardiest of winter plants in the Northeast region, they are simple to maintain and have a long growing season, ensuring your garden stays bright and beautiful through the warmer months. 

Henry Mitchell, gardener extraordinaire and famed columnist, once said, “There is nothing like the first hot days of spring when the gardener stops wondering if it’s too soon to plant the dahlias and starts wondering if it’s too late. Even the most beautiful weather will not allay the gardener’s notion (well-founded actually) that he is somehow too late, too soon, or that he has too much stuff going on or not enough. For the garden is the stage on which the gardener exults and agonizes out every crest and chasm of the heart.” As you direct the dancing colors of each of your blooms across your garden stage this year, throwing your excitement for the coming months to the wind hoping it will respond in kind with gentle breezes to softly kiss the delicate petals of this year’s plantings, be sure to pay mind to the real star of the show: the dahlia. Do Henry Mitchell proud using these tips and tricks to ensure that your dahlias reach their fullest, colorful potentials. And remember to sit back and enjoy your garden once it’s planted—After all, you poured your heart into it!

With so many incredible varieties to choose from, finding the perfect dahlia to star in your garden show can be difficult. There truly is no wrong decision to be made, but these are just a few of our favorite blooms to inspire your next garden center adventure.

Tips and Tricks for Dahlias

• Dahlia’s are not fond of cold soil. Just like Henry Mitchell suggests, there’s a sweet spot to be reached with soil temperature for this pretty plant. Be patient and wait until there’s no chance left of spring frost before planting!

• Dahlia roots are tubers with the stems coming directly out often known as “eyes.” Make sure you plant with the eye’s facing up. 

• Prep your soil with compost or manure to make sure that your Dahlias are well fed.

• A planting spot with direct sunlight and shelter from the wind is ideal.

• Make sure to keep your plant hydrated when temperatures start heating up, but be sure not to water until you see growth above ground so you don’t drown your plant. A deep watering once a week once your plant starts to show should do the trick.

• A few examples of plants that Dahlias grow well among are many annuals, roses and oriental lilies.

• Make sure to prune regularly so that the healthy flowers will make it until around first frost. For larger blooms, remove side buds and allow only one flower to bloom at a time. 

• For bigger dahlia plants, try staking!

• Dahlia’s can easily be stored over the winter in a cool, dry, dark spot. Dig them up by mid-November or before it begins to frost. 

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.