GARDENING ADVICE: Potting up dahlias for summer colour

by Sally Gregson

DESPITE the cold overnight temperatures earlier this week, spring is arriving, if not already here. All the trees are crowned with light green leaves, the birds are singing and making nests, and the weeds are starting to grow.

It’s a good time to ready the garden for summer.

Now is the time to pot up all those dahlia tubers that have been stored over the winter under the greenhouse benches, in the garage, down in the cellar.

Bring them out into the light and find an old pot for each tuber. Discard those that have no top attached, and clean off the ones that join together in a bud.

Put each in a separate pot with some compost in a light, sunny place in the frost-free greenhouse. Give them a good water and keep them damp. They should start to push up their shoots in the next few weeks.

Once the shoots have reached about 10cm in length a few could be detached from the crown with a sharp knife.

Dip, or just touch the end in some green sulphur powder to prevent any fungal disease taking over, and insert them around the edge of a pot full of potting compost mixed with sharp sand or grit.

Label them with the name and date so that you can keep a record of what roots and when, and water them well in to settle the compost around the cuttings.

Once they have rooted well and wispy roots are showing through the drainage holes, tip out the cuttings and pot each up individually. Water and label each pot, and grow them on. They will be ready to join their sisters in the garden, or in your containers, by mid-summer.

And the original tuber will already be in flower. That will be about a month ahead of any dahlias that survived the winter planted out in the garden. The summer garden will be full of glorious, saturated colour.

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