Dahlias 2019’s Bulb of the Year!

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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The National Garden Bureau, the non-profit organization promoting gardening in North America on behalf of the horticulture industry and its members, has announced that they have selected the dahlia as the bulb crop of the year for 2019. The National Garden Bureau “Year of the” program chooses flowers and/or plants specifically for the North American market that are easy to grow, genetically diverse, and with a lot of new cultivars to showcase.

I have never grown dahlias in my own garden before and just mail ordered and planted 7 varieties this month. Many of us have fond memories of gardening with our parents and grandparents as children. As I look back to when I was a young girl, I think about the flowers my mother grew. She had a cutting garden that included many dahlias. I don’t remember her planting or digging them in the fall, but I do remember how tall some of the flowers were and the beautiful bouquets she made.

Dahlias come in all sizes and so many colors. Once a grower brought a bucket full of dinner plate-sized dahlias into my office. I took a photo of the dahlias with an Extension Master Gardener and the flowers were as big as her head! When you start looking at dahlias in a catalog it is hard to whittle your list down to a manageable number of plants that you can afford. You can purchase dahlia tubers via mail-order, at local garden centers, farmers markets, and local plant sales. They prefer loose, well-drained soil and sun. I planted a couple of mine in a container to see how they perform. Tall varieties and those with very large flowers will need staking for best flower quality. In the landscape they can be used as borders, edging, specimens, and for cut flowers.

To learn more about dahlias and how to grow them, check out the American Dahlia Society website.

Join the Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Union County for the Successful Gardener program on May 2, 2019, at 7 p.m, at the Union County Ag Center. The program will be presented by Erin Hostetler, on Small Space Gardening. The program is free, but rsvp is requested by calling 704-283-3822.