Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dahlias, Dahling or...Obsession Meets Possession

Since taking up gardening a few years ago, I've developed periodic obsessions. First it was growing veggies from seed. Then it was buying every lavender strain I could get my hands on. Last year, orchids.

This year, the bulbs are taking over. Lots of new irises, some additional arums, but most of all...dahlias.

Gardeners kind of cringe when you try to talk about growing dahlias in nether regions of Zone 7 and beyond. It's too dry. It's too hot. But dammit, I'm going to try.

Y'see, I've got a new yard with lots of individual beds. One mostly sunny bed on the West side currently houses about five or six very worn out, very boring old rose bushes. My plan is to have the bushes ripped out and to put bunches of dahlia bulbs in.

Considering I've already ordered about 45 dahlia tubers, I think my plan is pretty much of an involuntary "go" at this point. Either that, or I'm buying bunches of containers.

But I digress. Dahlias can be grown nearly anywhere in North America if you're willing to provide them with a little extra TLC when needed. Lots of compost and other organic matter added to the soil prior to planting. At least 5 hours of sun a day (morning sun in the South). Stakes installed at planting time for support. Deep weekly watering. "Disbudding" to encourage central growth.

Yup, it's going to be labor-intensive. But I'm looking forward to gazing at this, this and this from my kitchen window every morning in August.

Want to know more about growing dahlias? Here are several do's and don'ts from some knowledgable folks in Everett, Washington on good dahlia care. HGTV's Paul James has also hosted periodic episodes with dahlia growing tips and instructions.

Take advantage of some of the online specials and coupons being offered by companies like Dutch Gardens and Breck's. Click on the ad links at right to go straight to their sites, and save some money too.

Looking for a certain dahlia? Check The Big List or the Dahlia Buyer's Guide to point you in the right direction.

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