In the Spotlight
Summer-flowering bulbs provide some of the most extravagant and exotic-looking blooms, and Spring is the best time to get them in the ground.
You can't beat dahlias when it comes to impressive blooms. Not only do they look brilliant in borders or containers but they make wonderful cut flowers too - the more you pick, the more they keep coming!
You'll often find these beauties ready-grown and in bloom at the garden centre during summer, but this is the most expensive way to buy them. With a small amount of planning you can easily grow them yourself.
1) Take your pick
First of all you'll make your choice from the dazzling array of dahlias which you'd like for your garden. They come in a whole host of different colours and types, including pompom, windmill, single-flowered, cactus-flowered and many many more.
2) Find the right spot
Dahlias need a warm, sunny, sheltered spot. They like rich, fertile soil that is moist, yet free-draining. They won't do well in shady spots or if the soils is too cold and wet or too dry. Make sure there is plenty of space between plants - at least 60cm, if not more for larger cultivars.
3) Look after them well
For the best flowering display ensure you are regularly feeding and watering your dahlias. They're not hardy, so in all but the mildest areas of the UK it is best to dig up the root tubers and store them in a frost-free place over winter. Also, these tall and often top-heavy plants don't stand up well to strong winds so will need to be well-staked too.
4) Cut flowers & displays
If you keep cutting the flowers for display then your dahlia will keep on producing more and more blooms until the first frosts hit. Only cut the flowers when fully opened, as closed buds won't open after picking.