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Dahlias Make Great Container Plants

Dahlia, 'Cafe Au Lait'

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container gardening picture of dinner plate dahlia, cafe au lait

Dinner Plate Dahlia, Cafe Au Lait

Photograph © Kerry Michaels

'Cafe Au Lait,' dahlias are not called "dinner plate" dahlias for nothing. The blooms are enormous. They are also one of the most luxurious flowers I have ever seen. I like them best just when the blossoms are unfurling and the colors go from cream to salmon to pink. Once fully in bloom, they can be more of a uniform creamy color.

Cafe Au Lait, dahlias are also tall - from 36-48 inches. Because the flowers are huge and heavy, they can flop over, so staking is recommended. Also a protected area out of the wind will keep these flowers looking their best.

Plant dahlia tubers after all danger of frost, or do what I do and drag them in and out of your garage daily, until it warms up. Dahlias prefer a sunny spot and well drained, and fertilized soil. They are fairly short rooted, so you don't need to plant them in a very deep pot. Keep soil moist but not wet.

Feed your dahlias diluted fertilizer every other week, through the middle of August.

If you live in anything colder than a zone 8, dahlias can be a tricky to over-winter. They don’t like to be too hot or too cold, to wet or too dry. There is lots of advice on how to store dahlias for the winter. What is agreed on is that after a few frosts, you should dig up your dahlias, cut off the stems, remove as much soil as possible from the tubers before storing them. It is also widely agreed that they like to spend their winters in a dry, but not too dry, area that is between 40-50°F, so an unheated basement or garage can work - if it doesn't freeze.

Suggestions on storing dahlia tubers range from packing them in peat moss to building a temperature-controlled box to wrapping them in plastic wrap.

For more info on dahlias The American Dahlia Society is a great web site to check out.

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