W&D Florals: How To Grow Dahlias

Around these parts, my friend Jackie is known for her green thumb and incredible floral designs. It’s not often you meet a designer so in tune with the nature of her medium, and over the years Jackie has taken it upon her self to grow blooms that suite her tastes. Homegrown is always, always better. Today, Jackie is sharing her tips for growing big, beautiful dinnerplate dahlias right in your backyard. It’s something I have on my to do list for spring! Photos by Melissa Oholendt.

Munster Rose for W&D_34

Munster Rose for W&D_38

Jackie Fall has officially begun. The leaves are changing and the world is turning to pumpkin lattes, squash bisque, and cable knit sweaters. But in the floral world, we still have a few good weeks left to forage Indian Summer blooms from our fields.

My absolute favorite flowers during this season are dahlias. Specifically dinner plate dahlias. These gorgeous many-petaled beauties (literally the size of your head!) are the most show-stopping thing I’ve worked with in the floral industry. Ever. I have absolutely no idea how Mother Nature does it.

The main problem with these ladies (yes, I call them that) is that they don’t travel well. I found this out the hard way after trying for a full season to fly them in from California and Washington. The results? Not good. So I decided to grow my own.

Munster Rose for W&D_05

Here are some tips to planting and enjoying your own dinner plate dahlias.

1. Plant as early as possible. As soon as the last chance of frost has hit.

2. Plant in well drained soil and do not over water.

3. They need lots of sun, so keep that in mind when choosing your location.

4. Plant against a fence line, if possible. This will help protect the massive plants, which grow 7 to 8 feet high, from toppling in the wind. (You’ll have to stake them regardless, but the fence helps!)

5. Beware of bugs. Dahlias are prone to spider mites. Plus the asian beetles and grasshoppers love to nibble on their petals. If you notice any bug problems, get on it right away.

Hopefully you’ll feel inspired to try planting some of your own next spring. The fall is the perfect time to start saving (or pre-ordering) your bulbs for next year. These plants are in high demand, so don’t wait until April to try to find them. Start looking now!

Munster Rose for W&D_10

And for good measure, here’s a list of other things I like to grow – all of which are perfect to pair with dahlias: mint, rosemary, sage, coleus (yes this can survive as a cut foliage!), sedum, and heuchera.