A few years ago I bought a dahlia tuber collection called the William Morris collection from Sarah Raven. The collection contains three types of dahlia called ‘Barcardi‘, ‘Labyrinth‘ and ‘Totally Tangerine‘ which is my favourite.

All photos by Toni Abram.

Dahlia Totally Tangerine.

Dahlias start growing in late spring and grow rapidly, flowering from July – November. They come in many colours or sizes and can be grown in pots or in a garden border. They were discovered by 16th century Spanish botanists who noted dahlias growing wild on the hillsides of Mexico. You can read more about dahlias below.

Dahlia (mid May).

Dahlia (late May).

Dahlia (early June).

The first year, I planted the tubers in medium sized pots with multi purpose potting compost and popped them in the shed where there was some light but where they could also stay warm and dry. I didn’t start watering my dahlias until they began to shoot and once this began to happen I transferred the plants into large deep pots.

My dahlias grow 3 – 4 foot so I use plant supports, which I create cheaply with garden canes to form a wigwam structure and cane grips which you can buy at garden centres, on eBay or Amazon.


I have never experienced any problems growing dahlias. Mine always have many flowers and so I have them as cut flowers in the house too. However, I have read they are prone to attack from earwigs, which eat the leaves, buds and flowers. If this is a problem for you, you can create earwig taps by pushing a garden cane into the soil and placing an upturned garden pot stuffed with straw on top of it. During the day the earwigs will retreat to the pot and you can then dispose of them.

I understand that proper gardeners dig the tubers up at the end of summer, clean them up and put them in a warm dry place over the winter.  Lazy gardeners don’t do this. They leave them in the pot throughout the winter and hope for the best. Being a lazy gardener has served me fine so far.

Dahlia Barcardi.
Dahlia Labyrinth.

Dahlia Totally Tangerine.


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