24 March 2012 - 3:56pm

Getting your dahlias going

I've just spent a lovely morning in the garden shed potting on cuttings and putting large dahlia tubers overwintered in the greenhouse into pots to encourage them into growth before planting out in late May. I have kept the dahlias fairly dry and frost free over the winter, so they are looking fine and dandy now and ready to come to life.I chopped off all the slimy or mouldy looking bits before planting, if they are bit shrivelled they will probably be OK after a few waterings. I have two old favourites, Bishop of Llandaff (pictured) a really elegant plant with bronze, ferny leaves and gorgeous bright red flowers, and David Howard - taller, also with bronze leaves but with orange flowers. I've also popped some into pots to sell on our NGS open day on 6 and 7 May.

I left some in the ground last autumn with a good, protective mulch so will be hoping for some green shoots soon! Slugs love dahlia leaves, especially when young so it's good to keep an eye out for the little critters. A good handful of grit round the emerging shoots usually helps if you are not keen on using slug pellets, this treatment can work for many plants including delphiniums and hostas which are emerging about now, here in the midlands at least.