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Dinner Plate Dahlias Dahlias and dahliettas (the dwarf

hybrid) are almost a staple in the garden and in containers, but we are now seeing a return of the giant dinner plate dahlia, once the prize of many a farm garden, where the corms were carefully nour- ished, lifted in fall and overwintered to bloom in a dazzling display the follow- ing summer. Each tuber can produce as many as 10 more tubers by autumn espe- cially if you feed them with a low nitro- gen fertilizer (5-10-10). If you like showy blossoms, then few

other flowers can compare. Some variet- ies will produce blooms that are 24 cm (10 in) in diameter Dinner plate Dahlias are easy to grow, but the flower heads may need staking, a small price to pay for their striking show. All dahlias come in many colours, including bi-colours, and in many petal forms: balls and pompons, cactus, curving rays of multiple petals, petals with split ends, orchid form, peony form and so on. The colours include everything from

green to purplish-black, from blue to white and all in between. After planting dahlia tubers, it takes

two to three weeks for the shoots to appear. Don’t water tubers in springtime to avoid rotting them; there is plenty of moisture in the soil in spring. Dinner plates are just one of the many

Giant dinner plate dahlias can produce 24 cm (10 in) blooms.

dahlia varieties. There are literally banks of them growing in late summer in Victoria’s Butchart Gardens, a stunning display. Let the first frost blacken the foli-

age before lifting, being careful not to damage the crown. Separate the new tubers from the mother with a knife and allow them to dry for a day before stor- ing in peat moss of shavings in a cool dry place.

Freesia In many ways, freesia is a less fluores-

cent echo of crocosmia and indeed they are related. Freesia, though, is blessed with a lovely scent, especially the white, yellow and red flowers. The pastel mauves and pinks are more subtle in their perfume. This is a warm weather, rather than

hot weather plant, blooming in 16 to 20 weeks from time of planting. They may be a little more sensitive to weather conditions, so you could try growing them in containers where you can regu- late light and heat. Plant the corms, pointy side up, one

Lightly-scented freesias are warm weather beauties.

to three inches deep in rich soil with good drainage. Keep them cool well-watered (moist not wet) in a shady

and Spring 2015 • 25

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