Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Old House Gardens Nursery & Heirloom Dahlias

My garden planning for next year is in full tilt now. I just received the Old House Gardens email newsletter which I had been waiting for to see what web only dahlias, glads, and cannas will be offered. The dahlia 'Giraffe' was first in my shopping cart.

Old House Gardens--"Antique Flower Bulbs for Every Garden - Unique, Endangered, Amazing!"--is a great source for heirloom bulbs: cannas, dahlias, glads, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lillies, and a few diverse others. Every shipment is carefully checked and packed. Nothing which is sub prime gets out. The bulbs come with detailed instructions on planting, forcing, and winter care.

For the summer, dahlias are my favorite cut flower and are super easy to grow. One dahlia tuber produces loads of blooms which keep getting better and better as the season winds down and other plants are calling it quits. Cut flowers mix well in arrangements and hold well in water. The heirloom dahlias offered at Old House Gardens are not the super sized dahlias that are difficult to mix with other flowers, but come in a range from small pompoms to larger 5-6 inch diameter flowers.

Dahlias can be started inside in pots before the weather warms up for an early start. But, seeing that dahlias grow so quickly, I usually wait until the weather has warmed up and plant them outdoors when I plant my tomatoes. I always topdress the soil and incorporate a little compost into the planting hole when I plant my tubers. After they start growing, begin watering them and watch them grow.

The one thing to be vigilant about, however, is staking. When planting put a tall stake in next to the tuber. Don't think it's too tall because in about six weeks you will otherwise be wishing you had. The hollow stems of dahlias break very easily in a summer storm or strong winds, so be careful to begin tying them in when they are about 18 inches tall.

Once blooming, keep deadheading or cutting for the house. The more you cut, the more they bloom.

In the fall, I will post about storing dahlias for the winter.

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