Written and photos by Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.
The Dahlia Society of Victoria was first established in 1960 by a group of enthusiastic lovers of the brilliant blooms. Their aim was to share not only their love for these flowers but the culture behind the Dahlias as well. The society is going strong and continues to hold events all over Victoria.
We had the pleasure of hosting the Dahlia Society this past weekend at the Gardenworld nursery. On display were hundreds of colourful dahlias which were all grown by the Dahlia Society members including some varieties which were bred over a number of years by some of the members. One particular Dahlia called Tiny Tots stood out from its giant siblings and was voted by the Gardenworld staff as the ‘cutest’ dahlia on show. This petite dahlia was developed over 10 years by one member who aimed to create bright, colourful flowers with strong stems ideal for cut flowers.
There are hundreds of species of Dahlias with a range of colours and sizes. The best time to begin planting these classic flowers is at the beginning of October and November. You can plant them as tubers or from pots which are usually found in nurseries later in the season. Make sure not to over water them as they can rot easily. Give it good water if the soil is dry. Once the tuber has emerged from the soil, approximately 10-15cm high, you can start watering more regularly.
Depending on the age of the Dahlia tuber it can take 6- 8 weeks until the first flower buds appear. Dahlia flowers begin to emerge in late summer and will continue to bloom throughout the autumn months. Dahlias are available in both large and dwarf forms. Dwarf varieties will grow to 50cm high making them ideal for container gardens or small patio gardens. If you prefer the larger forms they range from 1.2 – 2.0 metres tall! A little tip for the taller varieties: it is best to keep them staked as this will encourage stronger stems and will provide support for the plants as they grown.
Dahlias thrive in a warm sunny position in the garden with well-drained soil! The most ideal position is all day sun otherwise an area with afternoon sun. To achieve the best growth and performance for your Dahlias keep them well fertilised when they first emerge from the soil! Once the plants have begun to shoot apply powder or palletised all-purpose fertiliser to the soil surface and water it into the soil.
Dahlias can be that stunning floral display inside and out of the home that you might have been searching for. They can be a vibrant pop of colour in the autumn months when most of the summer flowers begin to finish in the garden. With new forms continually being developed I have no doubt that there is a Dahlia out there for everyone.