Smith County Gardner
Remember on “Dennis the Menace” how Mr. Wilson cared for his prized dahlia which he intended to enter in a contest? It was the huge dinner plate sized one. Maybe ours isn’t huge, but it is a beauty.
They come from the mountainous areas of Central America where the soil is rich and very well-drained and the climate is cool but not cold in winter — like San Francisco or Portland, Ore.
We have two of these beauties in the IDEA Garden, one in the inside circle and the other in the yellow-orange section of the Rainbow Border. Both are in full bloom and beautiful.
What makes dahlias happy? Aside from ‘cool’ weather which we can’t provide, they love humus — rich soil and must have perfect drainage. Fertilize them with nitrogen spring until hot weather then use high potassium fertilizer. Water when dry and give them full sun. This plant grows about four feet tall and wide; so give it plenty of room.
Horticulturalists have been busy working on dahlias for hot climates, and others are appearing on the market. You will find red, orange, pink, and shades of yellow and orange. All have dark foliage so far and are heat tolerant. Ours has come back from a winter dormancy reliably for the 4-5 years we have had it, making it a definite winner for us.