"God bless the dahlias."
-said every weary October gardener.
A large percentage of our flowers are now headed to sleep for the winter, or have succumbed to Autumn's icy grasp #blesstheirsouls, but “All Hail the Dahlia!” Majestic queen of the late-summer-into-fall cutting garden.
I've grown these stunners for maybe 6 or 7 seasons now and am completely and utterly hooked on their charm. Though I can't tout them as “deer resistant” (our resident herd left them alone for one growing season here at the lake but have been hell-bent on destroying them ever since), they are worth protecting. I have a small dahlia bed - maybe 2'x10' - and I'm still gathering bouquets by the armful! I distinctly remember cutting my last dahlia one year on November the 15th. When the rest of our summer beauties are petering out, dahlias truly win the day!
Though technically you're supposed to dig them up here in Zone 7 to store and replant in spring, I've found that if they are planted directly in the ground in any kind of semi-protected area, they often overwinter just fine. Not as fussy as their elegant blooms might suggest, they like well-draining soil and the occasional fertilizing. I water them deeply, but not often. The main pest mine have had trouble with over the years is spider mites - but they are easily taken care of if you stay on top of spraying (I use the organic Fungicide3).
The reward for the small bit of tending they require is gathering stunning blooms to fill your home with late into the growing season. Keeping this in mind, I always include fall-appropriate color varieties in the lineup of what I plant each year.
If you've never grown dahlias before and you love keeping vasefuls of cut flowers around, consider adding dahlias to your wish-list of varieties to order this winter!