Ah, August! The sun is high, the days are long, and our gardens are bursting with life and color. Whether you are growing a backyard full of vegetables, flowers or both, It's that beautiful time of year when we reap the rewards of our springtime efforts, indulging in the abundance that our gardens have graciously bestowed upon us. In this month's garden update, we'll dive into the delightful world of dahlias and the pure joy of relishing everything about these lovely cut flowers that our garden offers… no matter what size, shape or color.
If there's one flower that truly steals the show here in Central Indiana in August, it's the dahlia. These vibrant blooms come in an astonishing array of colors, sizes, and shapes, turning our garden into a living canvas of beauty. As I stroll through the garden, I can't help but be captivated by them, from fiery oranges and sunny yellows to deep magentas and delicate pinks. Each dahlia seems to have its own personality, the petite but rebellious, the life of the party, the one with the Quirky Charm, and growing a lot of dahlias that came nameless, straight from a package full of seeds, I find myself giving each one a name, like “cosita bonita'' and "irremediable."
As I approach my dahlia patch (And by that, I mean my very, VERY small corner in one of my raised beds in my backyard) I can't help but feel a sense of pride. These dahlias have been the stars of my garden, gracing it with their brilliant hues and exotic personalities. Before I dive into the soil, I take a moment to admire their towering stalks. If I am being completely honest here, I will admit that it is hard for me to snap these lovely blooms from the plants, but I know that the plant will give me many more in the days to come (At least I hope so!)
Snip, Smile, Repeat, over and over. One by one, I continue my delightful dahlia harvest. Each snip is a mini-celebration of life and color. "Break Out" and "Peaches" join the party, each bringing its unique charm to the bouquet-to-be. It's not just about collecting flowers; it's about creating a symphony of colors that will brighten up my home and my mood, or someone else’s. Have you ever handed someone a bouquet of fresh-dahlias and witnessed their face light up like a kid in a candy store? If you haven't, trust me, it's pure magic. Gifting flowers isn't just about the physical act; it's about sharing a piece of your art, of your hard work. Your homegrown blooms have the power to put a smile on anyone's face – be it your neighbor, your best friend, or even yourself!
If you are new to the whole “growing dahlias at home”, here are some tips on how and when to harvest your dahlia blooms:
Choose your favorite garden tools: Grab a pair of clean, sharp gardening shears or pruners. Blunt blades can damage the stems and hinder the plant's growth. One of my favorites, as you already know, are the Ratchet Pruners by Hoselink USA. They are simply a great tool in my bag!
Timing is Key: Wait until the morning dew has dried and the sun is gently warming your garden. This is the optimal time to harvest dahlias, as they're hydrated and full of energy.
Pick Me! Pick Me!: Choose blooms that are fully open and have reached their peak; however, a dahlia that is only halfway open can add a nice touch to any flower arrangement or bouquet. Look for petals that are vibrant and free from blemishes. Gently cup the stem in your hand and snip it just above a set of healthy leaves.
Leave Some Leaves: Don't go overboard – leave some foliage on the plant. Around two-thirds of the stem's length with leaves is a good rule of thumb. This will help the plant continue to thrive healthier and stronger (and produce more blooms!).
Say No to Foliage: While the leaves add character to the plant, they're not so great for the vase. Remove any leaves that would be submerged in water, as they can cause the water to become cloudy and promote rot. Extra tip: Use Hoselink's Heavy Duty Planter Bags as a waste bag!
Now that you have your stunning dahlias in hand let's make sure their beauty lasts as long as possible. Here's how to keep them fresh and fabulous:
Water Please!: As soon as you've snipped your dahlias, place the stems in a bucket of lukewarm water. Let them rest for a couple of hours to rehydrate and get all perky.
Ouch! No Direct Sun!: Find a spot for your vase that's away from direct sunlight and heat sources. While your dahlias love the sun outdoors, they'll fare better indoors if they're kept cool and shaded.
Change the Water: Every two days or so, give your dahlias a fresh drink. Empty out the vase, trim the stems a bit, and refill with clean water. This prevents bacterial growth and keeps your flowers healthy and strong.
Give Them Some Food: A little flower food can go a long way in keeping your dahlias happy. Follow the instructions on the packet and add it to your vase water every time you change it.
Admire and Enjoy: As your dahlias continue to grace your home with their presence, take a moment to admire their beauty. You've not only cultivated a gorgeous garden, but you've also brought that beauty indoors for everyone to enjoy.
Fun Dahlia Facts
- Symbolism and Meanings: Dahlias carry different symbolic meanings depending on their colors. For instance, red dahlias symbolize strength and power, while pink dahlias convey gratitude and admiration.
- Aztec Heritage: Dahlias are native to Mexico and were initially cultivated by the Aztecs for their decorative and medicinal purposes. They were even used as a source of food and water storage by the Aztecs due to their tuberous roots.
- Dahlia Classification: Dahlias are classified into various categories based on their flower forms. These categories include single-flowered, semi-double, anemone-flowered, decorative, cactus, waterlily, and more, each with its unique characteristics. Pretty cool huh?!
In this delightful month of August, the garden has become a haven of beauty, bounty, and contemplation. Dahlias have painted our landscape with their radiant shapes, sizes and colors, while tomatoes have shown us the rewards of patience and nurturing. But perhaps most importantly, the garden has reminded us to slow down, savor the simple pleasures, and embrace the gifts that nature so generously provides. You know who loves dahlias just as much as you do? Bees and butterflies! By cultivating blooms, you provide a buffet of nectar and pollen for these essential pollinators. It's a win-win situation – you get the beauty of the flowers, and they get the sustenance they need to keep our ecosystems thriving.
As we continue to tend to our garden, we're not just growing food and flowers– we're nurturing a connection to the earth, the changing seasons, and the cycles of life itself. So, whether you're harvesting a bundle of dahlias to brighten up your home, giving a lovely bouquet to a neighbor or relishing the first bite of a sun-loved vegetable, take a moment to soak in the magic of August in the garden.
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