Planting Dahlias & Gladioli: Showy and Beautiful


Dahlias are tuberous perennials and were cultivated in other countries during the 1800’s. They are fast-growing, succulent plants and require large amounts of water. Dahlias are heavy feeders and will benefit from additional fertilizer. However, they are not frost hardy, and the first hard frost will turn leaves black and signal the end of the flowering season. The flowers are generally planted about the same time you would plant your vegetable garden. Be aware though that the dahlia’s constitution is susceptible to numerous diseases and pests, and usually require frequent treatment with various fungicides and insecticides.

Gardeners who are looking for a beautiful, versatile and long-blooming flower for their beds should take a close look at the dahlia. Those who grow the fleshy-root super tubers tend to become addicted, joining support groups cleverly disguised as “dahlia societies.” Planters who’ve been unsuccessful in storing dahlia tubers over the winter may be unaware of the dahlia’s quirks. Dahlias like a constant dark environment for storage-not too dry or they completely dry out and not too wet or they rot. Many gardeners avoid the hassle of dahlia tuber storage by buying new tubers each year at plant sales.

Most people recommend providing dahlias with at least a half day of sunlight every day. But gardening methods are as varied as the gardeners who use them, and it seems like every gardener has his or her own preferred method of achieving a beautiful garden.

The dormant tubers are wrinkled looking when you first plant them. In order to grow each tuber must have a bud (like the eye on a sprouted potato). Dahlias are a bit fussy and need to planted at the correct time(after the last frost) when the soil has warmed. You will also develop patience as you wait for the dahlias to sprout from the dormant tubers. Plants cut back fairly hard will produce stronger regrowth from further down the stalk than if just the bloom is cut. Plant your dahlias in beds about the same time as you’d plant corn, i.e. when the soil has warmed.

Plant dahlias when the spring soil has enough moisture to promote proper growth, such as when the spring rains arrive — that should provide enough water. However, the soil must be well-drained; a neutral soil is preferable to a highly acidic one. Planting in pots gives the dahlias a real good head start and assures you that they are viable before they are planted out. Tall-growing dahlias should be staked in order to support the long stems and large flowers. Staking plants strengthens the tree to the point where it cannot be broken or destroyed by winds or rain storms very easily. Dahlias do not like sharing the sun, so avoid planting them near walls or trees

Dahlias are named after the Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl, who studied the seeds and tubers from Mexican dahlias in 1789. They are full sun plants but usually will do well if they receive a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of sunlight each day. They are stocky plants with tuberous roots and showy flowers that come in a wide range of colors. Dahlias are among the most beautiful of garden flowers, but they require a great deal of attention and care, and many gardeners, especially those in the South, find it just isn’t worth the effort. But dahlias are considered one of the most spectacular garden flowers, so the end result is usually worth it.

Easy to Grow Gladioli

Gladioli are a very versatile plant and are equally at home in most gardens from the contemporary to the traditional. They are available in almost every color and hue, with flowers from 5 cm to 18 cm (or 2 in. to 7 in.) wide. The gladiolus is sometimes called the sword lily or corn lily, and the name means “little sword” in Latin. The name comes from the shape of the leaves which look like swords of the ancient knights. Gladioli are perfect for combination planting in border gardens as well as for long-lasting cut flowers. They are simple to grow and very rewarding.

Gladioli are good for cut flowers as well as in the garden. The vegetable garden is a good place to grow glads for cut flowers. They stand out in the garden due to their shape in color. Many kinds of glads make ideal cut flowers, and can be grown in rows in the cutting garden. Today’s gardeners can choose from a wide range of flower forms, colors and heights, so there’s certainly a gladiolus for everyone’s taste. Dust the corms before storage with an all-purpose garden fungicide to ensure against insect and disease damage while in storage.

If you want flowers for display, or cutting, during most of the summer, you’ll need to plant large corms every two weeks throughout the early spring. Plant them in a sunny spot after the danger of frost has passed. Try to plant the corms (bulbs) in the spring, then sit back and wait, and prepare to be amazed. Plant large bulbs 4 to 6 inches deep, medium-sized bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep, and small bulbs 2 to 3 inches deep. For the best effect, plant mixed colors in groups of 25 or more; single colors may be planted as few as 10 in a group for equally striking displays.

The flowers should bloom in about 90 days. They should open first from the base of the spike, with the older flowers dying as new ones develop and open. Flowers bloom in all colors of the rainbow except true blue. The cone of flowers running up the plant stalk comes in a myriad of colors from white, to fuschia, to bright yellow

The gladiolus is an important floral crop world wide that is grown in gardens and sold as a cut flower. In fact, Gladioli are recorded (under several of its synonyms) as being used in southern Africa in treating a variety of ailments, including diarrhea and colds. It is one of the few plants that can produce green blooms, and produce a show stopping effect in the garden or a vase. They are grown for their attractive flower spike that has florets of huge form, dazzling color and varying sizes, with a long vase life.