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4010 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA, 94549

Located in the Bay Area, CA, we're a family-owned garden center offering unusual and hard-to-find plants & gifts. Established 1946.

Life is Beautiful Blog

How-To: Growing Spectacular Dahlias

Blaire Benson

We have a variety of dahlia species available at Orchard, including dinner plate blooms, those with dark foliage and rare, multi-colored anemone dahlias. Below we share a few tips and tricks to grow spectacular dahlias in your garden.

Dahlias are gorgeous prolific bloomers, flowering from May to November here in the Bay Area. They grow best in six hours of sun a day; choose a location with morning sun and protection from the wind. Plant bulbs four to six inches deep and about two feet apart, placing the tubers flat with eyes facing up.

Dahlias are heavy feeders, so before planting, amend the soil with E. B. Stone Organic Composted Chicken Manure or Paydirt (which contains 45 percent composted chicken manure). Add a balanced fertilizer such as Master Start 5-20-10. Once buds form, boost the phosphorus content with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food 5-10-5. Continue to feed once a month from June to September. 

A thorough watering after planting is sufficient until shoots begin to appear in two to three weeks; overwatering will cause the tubers to rot. During the growing season, water deeply every three to four days depending on the weather. After the downpour we’ve experienced the last few weeks, there will be an influx of slugs this spring. We highly recommend protecting young plants using Sluggo or Sluggo Plus. 

Encourage bushier plants and more flowers by clipping off the center stem’s tip after the dahlia has three sets of leaves. If you want to enjoy the largest flowers possible, allow only one central bud on each branch to develop by removing the smaller lateral buds. Especially for dinner plate dahlias, be sure to tie the center stem to a stake to ensure the blooms aren’t damaged and the leafy stalk can continue to grow upwards. To lessen the potential for disease, remove the bottom leaves to increase airflow.

For more information, come in and speak to our knowledgeable staff or visit the Dahlia Society of California.