For late summer and early autumn colour in the garden, dahlias take some beating.
They come in a range of different types from the small round pompom flowers to the large, structural blooms and everything in between.
Colours go from pale, pastel shades to vibrant and multi-coloured, meaning there is literally a dahlia to suit everyone. In borders they can be mixed between shrubs, annuals and perennials to supply late colour or used to brighten up a veg plot or allotment to add colour and provide fresh cut flowers.
All dahlias grow from a root tuber, which is the plant's winter storage organ and once you have them you can keep the plants growing for years.
Natives of Mexico, dahlias aren’t fully hardy, but in mild areas you can often get away with leaving the tubers in the ground over winter.
That said, it is safest to lift them in late autumn when the tops have been frosted, store them frost free and re-plant in mid-spring. This prevents underground slug damage to new growth and allows you to take cuttings from new shoots or divide larger tubers into several plants.
Planted in spring in soil that’s been improved with garden compost, tubers that are dormant or just starting into growth will soon settle in and start to make new shoots around mid-May onwards.
Top tips for growing dahlias
Large tubers can often be divided by pulling them apart, making sure each tuber has an old stem attached.
Inspect the tuber and trim off any damaged parts or small dried-out roots using a sharp pair of secateurs.
Dig a hole and position so that the top of the tuber is a couple of inches below soil level, back fill and firm.
To support growing dahlias, push in thick canes or stakes around the plant and loop string between them.