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Delightful Dahlias

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Feb 08, 2016

Dahlias work well in any garden
I have started to notice the first hints of spring arriving in the garden. Green shoots are starting to appear on shrubs and the very first spring bulbs are starting to flower. Many gardeners have already welcomed the appearance of snowdrops and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of daffodils, hyacinths and tulips in the coming weeks.

While many gardeners have their minds firmly fixed on spring bulbs, it is actually time to start thinking about summer colour. One of the best ways to incorporate vibrant summer colour is with summer flowering bulbs and they can be a relatively cost effective way too. 

Just this past week in CountryLife I was unpacking a delivery of summer bulbs and my mind was filled with images of long warm summer days, full of bright flowers. A person can only dream of a summer like this in Ireland. Introducing vibrant colour to a garden is much easier part of this dream thanks to summer flowering bulbs. 

Of the many summer flowering bulbs on the market, dahlias have always been one of my favourites. I have fond memories of working with them in the Botanic Gardens while I was studying horticulture in college. We would spend afternoons huddled up in a warm greenhouse propagating them from cuttings. 

Dahlias have been popular for years now but have really gained a surge in popularity over the past two years with starring roles in show gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows. I suspect dahlias will be as popular as ever this year as a versatile flower that works well in flowerbeds and in pots and containers. 

Dahlias are native to Mexico but despite their tropical origins they do fantastically well in English and Irish gardens. They are a herbaceous perennial that will very happily take a starring role in any flowerbed. It is very easy to find one to work for you as they come in such a wide range of colours. 

If you plant dahlias outside they will usually follower in mid-May. I have found however if you plant them undercover to start with and then out into the garden you will get flowers in early April. Starting dahlias off under cover also means you can protect young plants from slugs when they are most vulnerable.

Dahlia-Burlesque-is-one-to-look-out-for-this-yearOne particular dahlia that I suspect will be very popular this year is called Burlesque. This dahlia produces flowers that are almost the size of side plates so it has great impact in a garden. The flowers will create a great impact in the garden this summer. Growing to approximately 3.5 feet will make its a good flower for the middle of a border.

Ball Fusion offers gardeners something a bit different. The flowers on this dahlia are much smaller and almost look like like small pompoms. Single flower varieties have been proving very popular in England over the past few years and I suspect they will make a big hit this summer in Ireland. 

Slugs and earwigs enjoy dahlias but are thankfully easy to control in the garden. An interesting way to control earwigs is with scrunched up balls of paper placed around the plant. The earwigs will move into the paper during the day in search of a cool place and then can easily be disposed of.

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at:

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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