Date: 11 March 2005
Originally published in: Various local newspapers (UK)
Written by: Kim Wilde
One of the range of plants that I would not be without in my garden are the Summer Flowering Bulbs, as they help me to inject new life into my planting displays, create interest and add excitement with their stunning colourful blooms during the summer months.
A wide selection of Summer Flowering Bulbs are available now in garden centres and it is wise to check out the many exciting varieties available, which you can choose to transform borders and containers. You should aim to purchase your selection early to ensure that you have the pick of the crop.
A favourite choice for many gardeners is the Dahlia. A magnificent plant that flowers from August and will produce bloom after bloom, day after day until the autumn frosts. The dahlia comes in a vast choice of flower types; from small pompon varieties to huge decorative varieties, and like roses, there is a huge array of different colour shades to choose from. You will always be able to find a type and colour to suit your garden. Dahlias are ideal to add into a mixed flowering border to inject colour. They can also be grown in lines on the allotment to produce cut flowers for the home, or grown in containers on the patio.
You can purchase Dahlias now as a tuber or for some varieties, later as a growing plant. They will come with full cultural instructions to help you make the right choice and selection.
Once at home, your tubers should be unpacked immediately and planted into pots, boxes or trays of potting compost. After watering, place in a greenhouse or other light position, which has a temperature of at least 55F. The tubers will produce shoots and the plants produced will soon be ready to be hardened off in a cold frame in May.
Do not plant Dahlias out into your garden until the danger of frost has passed and you should constantly check for slugs and snails, as these pests will readily eat new shoots. Dahlias like a rich fertile soil, so therefore before planting ensure you dig in a large quantity of organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure and add a general-purpose fertiliser. Many varieties will need the support of a stake after planting and will need regular feeds of a high Potash liquid fertiliser during the season.
Gladioli corms can also be planted in groups in the middle of borders during March, to provide stately elegance or to create a central focal point from late spring to early summer.
There is a wide range of colours to choose from and you should aim to plant 5 or 7 corms of the same variety in each group for the best effect. After planting, ensure the growing plants are supported.