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Earlier Dahlias

When it comes to homegrown wedding flowers, it’s hard to beat dahlias. Not only are they beautiful, they also come in a wide range of styles, colors and sizes. Dahlias blend well with other flowers as well, so they’re useful for everything from bouquets to table arrangements.

The only possible downside with growing dahlias for a wedding is that they tend to be late bloomers. In northern areas if you plant dahlia tubers in the garden at the end of May, you’re likely not to have flowers until early September.

There are two possible ways to speed up dahlia production in northern regions, however. The first is by purchasing pots of these plants already in flower. Many local garden centers offer blooming dahlias in early June, so check with your neighborhood nursery and see if they can get these in.

Your second option is to order cuttings instead of tubers in the spring. Yes, cuttings! I’ve purchased dahlia cuttings from Corralitos Gardens for several years and I have to say that if you follow their instructions you’ll have the most over-achiever, early flowering dahlias you’ve ever seen.

Corralitos ships small cuttings, but advises you to immediately pot them up in six-inch pots. I order mine so that they arrive about three weeks before I can plant them in the garden. I plant them in pots with time-release fertilizer, and grow them on inside in a very sunny location for those three weeks. During that time they more than triple their size, and once in the garden they start blooming in early July!

So if you’re planning to grow many of the flowers for your garden wedding, look into these means of producing early flowering dahlias.

Large dinner-plate dahlias can be picked when they are just opening when a smaller bloom is called for, or can be allowed to develop to full, 8" diameter flowers.

 

Of course, if you live in a place where frost doesn't kill plants until late October, and your wedding is in the fall, you must plant dahlias! This photo was taken in mid-October.

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