Favorite English Garden Bee Plants – Dahlias

J’adore dahlias!

They look like little taffeta party dresses.

I don’t mind staking them, but I confess that I sometimes just let them lie there, looking like beautiful reclining maidens.

When my daughter Amelie got married a few years ago, I gave the bridesmaids’ luncheon at home. I put a dahlia blossom at every place setting, in different shades of pink. Even my daughter was impressed!

This winter was so mild that some of last year’s dahlias are coming up again. I used to dig the tubers up and store them, but after one bad experience I now plant new tubers every year.

Do bees like dahlias? How could they not??

Of course, they prefer the yellow and blue single varieties, but they like them all!

Growing dahlias is fairly easy.

When & Where to Plant

For best results, dahlias should be planted from mid April through May for most areas. Ground temperature approx. 60 degrees. (exceptions will be hot climates). In general about the same time you would plant your vegetable garden. Dahlias need a sunny location to thrive. An area that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight is best. Less sun equals taller plants and fewer blooms. Exception for hot climates, they will need morning sunlight, afternoon shade.

Soil Preparation & Planting 

Ground should be warm, well drained at planting, and in an open sunny location. If you have a heavier soil, add in sand, peat moss or bagged steer manure to lighten and loosen the soil texture for better drainage. Bone meal is ideal at planting time, put a small handful in the hole and work in well before planting tuber. PH level of your soil should be 6.5-7.0, slightly acidic. Do not amend dahlia beds with purchased top soils unless you are sure that it has not been treated in any way for weeds. Lay the tuber horizontally 4-6” deep, about 18” to 24” apart, and then cover with soil. DO NOT WATER TUBERS AFTER PLANTING!! Please wait to water until after the sprouts have appeared above the ground. The exception will be in hot climates, where they should be watered very lightly. Do not use bark dust or mulch to cover dahlias, as it does not allow the soil to warm up or tubers to sprout properly. This is a good time to apply snail and slug bait to protect the new sprouts.


Staking is necessary for any dahlias that will reach 3 feet or taller. Any staking product will work, please check your local garden center – i.e.: tomato cages, metal rods, or bamboo stakes.

Most areas have enough rain to fill dahlia water needs until the sprouts appear above the ground. After dahlias are established, a deep watering 2-3 times a week for at least 30 minutes with a sprinkler, more required during warmer dryer weather. Hotter climates will need to water more often as conditions require. Proper watering promotes proper blooming. Hand watering is not enough.

Dahlias require a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as a 5-10-10, 10-20-20, or 0-20-20. First applications should be within 30 days of planting and repeated again approx. 3-4 weeks later. One of the biggest mistakes made with dahlias is over feeding them. Avoid high nitrogen compost and high nitrogen water soluble types as they promote weak stems, small blooms, or no blooms, and tubers that rot or shrivel in storage.

Weed Control
Hand weeding is the only type of weed control you should ever use, there are no exceptions. Do not use any type of Herbicides, your dahlias will not survive.

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7 thoughts on “Favorite English Garden Bee Plants – Dahlias

  1. Susie says:

    Aren’t dahlia’s gorgeous?! I love them too. Thank you for linking back to my post… I appreciate your interest!

  2. lantanagurl says:

    Some of my fav flowers ever! I love your post and I really appreciate that you read mine:)

  3. […] Favorite English Garden Bee Plants – Dahlias (romancingthebee.com) […]

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