Tag Archives | dahlias

Dahlia Grow Along Part 3

Hello and welcome…

I have a feeling this might have been due a couple of weeks ago but the season has moved from pottering and contemplating to racing around the garden at full throttle. With a fully booked season ahead I have a lot of sowing and planting to do. Fortunately my team is back with some new additions too so we are certainly getting things done at present. After a few months off, my floristry skills have been cranked into motion again with eight weddings so far and plenty more in the coming months. I have done more talking in the past few weeks than I did all winter with our courses and gardening club talks.

Anyway, back to the DAHLIAS…, I took the first basal cuttings off my tubers this week. So here is how to turn that one favourite, special dahlia into an entire row of them.


I took my tubers out of storage back in February and potted them up so the crown was sitting above the compost level.

They are then placed in a warm, bright position to bring them into growth early. I want cuttings as soon as possible and so I use a heat mat or a heated sand bed. A greenhouse is ideal where the bright light conditions will produce stocky little shoots. This usually takes a good three weeks.

Now arm yourself with a sharp, clean knife, a plastic bag and some rooting hormone.

Cut the shoot right at the base, as close to the tuber as possible (preferably with a sliver of the tuber), being careful not to damage surrounding shoots.

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Check that your cutting has a solid centre, if hollow like a straw discard it as it will never root properly, only rot.

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Remove any lower leaves and dip the end in the rooting powder. If there is still a lot of leaf cut the remaining ones in half.

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I like to take a lot of cuttings so mine go into plug trays but around the edge of a pot works just as well.

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Label and date your cuttings for reference later.

The cuttings must be kept out of direct light in a warm, moist environment until they have rooted which will take about 2-3 weeks. A clear plastic bag over your pot of cuttings will keep them from transpiring and expiring. Be patient and no fiddling…!

The next Dahlia Grow Along post will be about growing them on and planting them out. I am going to get a head start with some of the giant varieties in the polytunnel.



Dahlia Grow Along 2015

This time last year I introduced my first Grow Along with a real garden favourite  –  Sweet Peas.

Now is the perfect time to start a new one with the first flower I ever grew for cutting twenty years ago – the Dahlia.

Green and Gorgeous, an ethical flower company which grows, arranges and sells locally grown flowers.

Although dahlias were deeply unfashionable at the time I was working for a die-hard Dahlia lover called Maurice Fitzmaurice. A wonderful big bear of a man with a penchant for giant Dahlias. His passion (actually obsession) for them was kind of infectious and as his gardener I spent hours attending to their every need and learning the most labour-intensive ways to grow them, as he was a stickler for detail.

My treat was to pick a big bunch to take home where I would while away hours (as you can in your 20s) contemplating their almost impossible forms and colours. Sometimes I would wear them in my hair, which I think was pretty impressive considering their size.

Maurice’s favourite was ‘Hamari Girl’ (big, pink and blowsy – see above) and when he died I went and dug up the tuber from his garden (but don’t tell the new owners…). I propagated and grew this variety in my first year here at G&G.

Since then I have mainly downsized to small and medium types but expanded my repertoire to about 80 varieties which are constantly chopping and changing. I have also simplified my cultivation methods to save time but still get amazing results for cutting.


Today I am going in to my dahlia store to select some favourites to be propagated for the season of 2015. I haven’t got room to take cuttings of them all so how do you choose a good variety for cutting?

Colour – a personal preference I know but as weddings are our main business my selection tends to follow trends.


Habit – a close up picture of a flower in a catalogue might be enough to persuade you to buy, but it doesn’t tell you about it’s growth habit and whether it produces good stem length.


Vase life – size and shape are the secret here, the majority of mine are small and miniature varieties in either decorative, ball or waterlily.



Productivity – another attribute which is difficult to predict until you are actually growing them, dahlias vary enormously in how prolifically they flower.

Longevity – some tubers store more reliably than others, possibly because they put on good strong tuber growth so do not shrivel up or rot over winter.

If you do like to try before you buy I recommend visiting the Wisley trial grounds and a couple of Dahlia nurseries with show beds in August/September.

So what is my short list for propagation? – not all of these, way too long for my heat bench!


My top ten is always changing but last year it was Cafe au Lait, Eternal Snow, Eveline, Acalpulco, Carolina Wagemans, Tiptoe, Porcelain, New Baby, Little Robert and Maldiva.


In next week’s post I will talk about varieties in more detail and where to source them if you are starting from scratch. I will also take you through a pictorial guide on how to propagate from tubers in case you have some favourites in storage.

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Hampton Court


We were able to have a day off the farm yesterday and get off to Hampton Court Flower Show. Rachel was invited to do a floristry demonstration and we were able to help man the ‘Flowers From the Farm’ Stand.

The stand was very busy all day and was generating lots of interest, with people being incredibly supportive and keen to find out more and smell the fresh blooms. Claire Brown (Plantpassion) and Fiona Hesketh(Purple Dasiy) have both been putting a lot of time in manning the stand this week, as well as Emily Rae (Plants 4 Presents) organizing matters on the ground.



Lots of flyers were handed out and everyone commented on how they loved the display (special thanks to Martin & the Magpie, among many others).


Next to us in the Floristry and Rose marquee were Pococks Roses, whom we sourced most of our stock from, so we were able to have a bit of a catch up with them. We were also able to see lots of our other favourite nurseries and pick up this new dahlia from Pheasant Acre called ‘Julie’, with distinctive, small heads.


We had a quick stroll off into the calm of the grounds of the palace itself, before braving the throngs again.


This was a WW1 show garden, showing how some horticulture did flourish behind the lines.


At 5pm, Rachel took to the stage to arrange a large urn arrangement and talk all about growing the flowers themselves.



She used chicken wire inside the urn and some incredible showstoppers from the garden at the moment, Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’, Rose ‘Chandos Beauty’, Ammi majus, Snapdragons, Campanula, Nicotiana and hornbeam.


Talking to some florists from the Academy of Flowers about British Grown Flowers, flower food and florist’s foam…..