Friday, July 10, 2009

Plant of the Month-July 09

From In the Garden

I have chosen the dahlia as July's Plant of the Month in my garden. Close (very close) runners up were: coneflowers, daylilies, phlox, and veronica. Dahlias are the star of this garden and who can miss the large colorful (some would say blowsy) flowers?

I grow three cultivars, a red one called 'Garden Wonder', and two purple ones; a light purple one called 'Lavender Perfection' and a dark purple one called 'Thomas Edison'. All three are dinner plate dahlias. I find the dinner plate dahlias are the easiest type of dahlias to grow.

I grow my dahlias in large pots that sit in front of my garage on concrete. This is the ideal spot in my garden because dahlias are one of those plants that really must have full sun in order to do well. The driveway here at Tiger Gardens gets about 6 hours if I am lucky, but it is the most sun anywhere here so it has to work. The pots work well because dahlias are not hardy here in my Zone 6/7 garden. I've grown dahlias for more than 5 years now and have dug the tubers each year, but this year I'll just move the pots to the garage as winter comes on. One year I was lazy and forgot to move the tubers to a protected place (though I had dug them) and lost them due to the freeze/thaw cycles that rotted the tubers. I was pretty upset because those ones were yellow and I had grown them the longest. Oh well.

Given the right conditions dahlias will bloom non-stop from June to October here in my garden. In addition to full sun, dahlias need plenty of fertilizer to bloom reliably for a long time. I add Osmocote slow release fertilizer and mulch with compost at the time of planting. I also add a cage or stake as well in order to hold up the top heavy plants. Dahlias can get mighty heavy and will fall over if not supported. Deadheading is required in order to keep the plants tidy and to encourage new blooms. I have to water my pots normally every day or every other day. In years past when the dahlias were planted in the ground, they needed no special watering. Pots are a whole other matter though, and while I knew I'd have to water often I am not happy about it. I am experimenting with milk jugs (hidden among the foliage) filled with water and with a few pin holes poked in the bottom of the jug so the water can trickle out slowly. So far the issue has been to get the water flow correct so that the water is delivered at just the right rate. It's been a slow process getting the 'passive watering system' precisely tuned.

Despite digging annually and having to regularly water the dahlias, dahlias are truly a July garden star and worthy of the title of Plant of the Month in my garden.

What is your July Plant of the Month?


  1. The perfect plant of the month Tina! I am thrilled with the ones I have planted, two directly into the garden and several in pots! Thanks for the reminder to feed them! My benign habits are not good for heavy feeders! Have a good weekend, my friend...I am going to the PPS garden on tour, will you be there? gail

  2. Good morning all!

    Hi Gail, Glad you like my choice! Dahlias are definitely worth growing. I got the email from Joanne but I think I am all garden toured out by now. Summer Celebration was my last big one this summer. I'm staying close to home working inside the house for a bit. You have fun and takes lots of pictures!

  3. Hi Tina, another plant I can't grow here. I can imagine dinner sized blooms being eaten by Japanese beetles, too disgusting. They are lovely but not for me. Think I'd have to pick daylilies as my plant of the month. They're really nice this year because of all the moisture. Those vivid colors just leap out at you.

  4. My July plant of the month would have to be Russian sage or Echinacea. Both are blooming profusely right now. I don't have any dahlias but they look great. In some ways I think zinnias can substitute for some dahlias.

  5. Marnie, Daylilies are so lovely this year indeed. I love them too. I am not sure why on the dahlias, but the J. beetles do not eat them. A really good thing since they eat everything else it seems:)

    Dave, Zinnas sure are similar to dahlias and I too love them. Echinacea was such a close runner up here. Russian sage is not happy here because I do not get full sun. Sigh. I sure wish I did so I could grow it to its full potential like you do!

  6. Tina, I love the look of dahlias, but I usually don't have much luck growing them. I'll have to take your tips to heart the next time I buy some and take better care of them. For me, the plant of the month is definitely coneflowers! One look at my garden, and you'll understand why:)

  7. These sure aren't hardy here either! I tried them years ago with no luck, maybe I'll try them again. Believe it or not my gerainum is blooming like crazy, I have two spots of them and the others flowered about 2 weeks ago.

  8. Oh, what a wonderful post! I can picture your plants and flowers preening themselves and sprucing themselves up for 'Oscars night'. My favourite plant at the moment is a gigantic flower that my wife planted some months ago and that has blossomed beautifully. I forget its name because I am the non-gardener member of the family. All families have one, don't they :-)?

    Greetings from London.

  9. I love Dahlias too. Mine won't come into their own until this fall. Right now in the dryness and heat they're just putting out a few flowers at a time, which Japanese Beetles love.

  10. Great choice Tina, I LOVE Dahlias although they are a pain in the fanny to dig up and still I did something wrong and lost all but 1 last year. My favorite is gone so I need to find it. I did buy some at market but having to settle for colors I'm not sure about but for sure the Dahlias will still be pretty. I've seen 1 bloom cut from a dinnerplate and brought to garden club. It was actually the size of a large dinnerplate. I fell in love and have tried to grow them and they never make it. Trying again this year and it's up and green and looks good now to see if it will finish growing and bloom for me. It's Fertilizer Friday guess I'll go fertilize it like you said to do. I like your suggestion of pots - maybe I'll try that and do like you and haul the pots in - they rot here for sure with all of our liquid falling from the sky.
    Oh and when they bloom they are definitely deadheaded and I get the most bouquets from my hubby when the Dahlias are blooming!!!
    I'm not sure what my flower for July would be - my Coneflower isn't opened yet, nor the Hydrangeas - guess it might have to be Daylilies now that I have some of them and they are blooming!

  11. You know Tina, Jamies Dahlias just aren't performing like they did last year. I wonder why? That's a flawless photo!--Randy

  12. they looks wonderful, my plant of july is stockrosen, dont know the english name, have a nice weekend at all !!! Kathrin

  13. Rose, sometimes it is the cultivar as some are more picky than others. Try 'Garden Wonder' as it is so floriferous! I also like the large yellow one. Don't give up.

    Dawn, Geraniums are great! Dahlias should do well up there too.

    ACIL, Now you like seriously have me wondering what type of flower it is that your wife grows. Please ask her and let us know?

    Sweetbay, I've not seen J. beetles on mine. Maybe because they are in pots away from other flowers? I'll keep a watch out. Please post a pic when your dahlia begin blooming.

    Linda, Dahlias are a favorite at garden clubs. I know mine likes it when I bring some blooms. They sure make a statement. Yes, do try pots. Easier to move out of the elements. So far so good for mine!

    Randy, Maybe they need some good slow release fertilizer? These guys are heavy feeders and do best with a good dose of food from time to time. Try that. Loved your comment on Frances' post. Too funny.

    Kathrin, Stockrosen is hollyhocks here. Good choice! They are blooming here too. I enjoyed them in Germany. Those and gladiolus and peonies (pfsingrosen?).

  14. I love Dahlias and always used to have many of them as I find them so easy to grow here and I do NOTHING to them at all. I did not have any last year but put a few in this year and it will be another month before they flower. Maybe with all the rain they will never bloom :( To show how easy well they do for me, I do not even dig them up, I just grab them and pull them up, put in a box in the basement till spring and then plant them again. Love them but for blooms now it would have to be the Ladys Mantle. My Hydrangea is just starting to bloom.

  15. That is a beautiful dahlia. This is a hard month to choose, but I will pick Echinacea, with phlox and dahlias very close.

  16. OOH, that's a beautiful picture, Tina. I have a very bright fuschia one blooming now and a white one almost in bud. Funny they are not blooming at the same time as I bought them together, same size and all. You know my pick for plant of the month would be the Hemerocalis!

  17. That is my fave flower! Mine was doing GREAT until it didn't rain for 40 days, then it pretty much went down hill

  18. Hi Tina, great choice and fabulous photos! I am also growing some in pots to take into the garage for winter. The plan is to bring the pot into the greenhouse with a little refreshing of the potting soil to get them started early before going outdoors. This is the first year so we'll see how it works. Keeping them watered is the hardest part, especially when you are away. Rain? Can't count on it. You post reminds me that I better fertilize them again. Thanks! :-)

  19. Blowsy is the word - like all big, full double flowers (Paeony, Poppies) they can seem extravagant and way over the top. A sort of Mae West of the plant world :-)

  20. Tina,
    My Dad grows Dahlias and he gave me some recently. I have never grown them, with success. How long does it take them to bloom? I am getting impatient! Thanks for stopping by my blog, & commenting.
    HAve a GREAT weekend.

  21. Mom, that might be why I like them too. Dahlias are pretty forgiving plants and I enjoy them too.

    Catherine, Sounds like our plants are on the same line for sure.

    Lynn, Ah yes the daylily. Everyone's favorite this time of year. They've looked mighty good too.

    Dirt Princess, I think yours still looks mighty good!

    Frances, Sounds like we are on the same sheet of music. Pulling pots in is way easier than digging.

    Easy Gardener, I shall from now on just call these gals my Mae Wests. Nothing wrong with being a bit blowsy at times:)

    Rosey, I planted these gals out in pots in May. From that point they were mere roots. It took about 7 weeks for the first one to bloom. Now they'll bloom for the rest of the season. They need some heat, sun, and fertilizer. I hope yours blooms soon!

  22. I tried them last year but with little luck but then again, most everything I tried last year was lost to drought. They are pretty and I may try them again at some point. My choice would be a toss up with a bush and a tree for pick of the month. Crepe Myrtle tree or Butterfly bush! They are both putting on a wonderful show for me now...

  23. Hi Tina,
    I love the dahlias but for some reason I do not have any luck with them here. I've tried several yrs. & the same thing happens. I have put them in pots every time. It gets way too wet {in fact it's going to pour anytime now} here at times to put them in the ground.
    As my flower of the month I will have to go with my Cannas. I do have a couple yellow glads blooming but the rain has beat them down even tho I had them staked.This seems to be a bad time of the yr. Monsoon.
    Hi Anonymous, Skeeter, Dawn, Jean & Nina. I hope you all had ideal weather & enjoyed a good day in the garden. Mine is way too wet. lol Even thought about getting a pontoon to navigate the yard. lol

  24. Very pretty --busy with kiddos. I did mow this morning --well, so did Boy 1 and Boy 2 --we made it a family mow:) Daddy watched lil Bundle. I think my crepe myrtles or brown eyed susans are really showing off this year --early blooming and very full:) I must get out to watch Sidekick and Girl Model swim --busy, busy but this was such a pretty flower choice and the color is so girly looking.
    Hi Lola --that pontoon boat sounds like a great idea with all that rain you've been getting --I hope it lets up soon for you -I'm sure it will make the mosquitos unbearable at some point:(
    Hi Skeeter, Jean, Nina and Dawn.

    Nina --my neighbor was up your way today --she said that area is so beautiful! I'm sure she was in town --

  25. Great choice! I love the first picture - the color is incredible! I think my favorites right now are zinnias and cosmos. They seem to do well in my garden as annuals. -Jackie

  26. Dahlias are such great flowers. I have trouble with some bugs chewing them up though. I haven't found the culprits yet. My favorite July flowers are daisies.

  27. Haven't grown dahlias for a long time...your photo is amazing. What a lovely colour!My favourites at the moment are the few kinds of jasmine that I grow.

  28. Dahlias just aren't any good as summer flowers in my garden. They look terrible until autumn, when the Japanese Beetles and Earwigs are no longer chomping them to shreds. I do admire them when they are well grown, and I love the color of the one you've pictured. My plant of the Month for July is either the Oakleaf Hydrangea or Phlox 'Nicky.'

  29. not one problem with Dahlias, but smelling my first fresh green pepper is the best thing for July

  30. Unfortunately my Dahlias that have returned reliably for years in the garden aren't looking so hot this season. :( Yours look great, good choice for Plant of the month! My choice for my garden would be a toss up between Salvia 'Mystic Spires' and the Coneflowers.