Dahlias forum→How do you plan your dahlia beds layout?

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NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Butterflies
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ScarletTricycle
May 8, 2020 7:29 PM CST
Longtime lurker here - thank you all for posting last year; as a novice dahlia grower, I gleaned a lot of information from your posts and was able to grow and then winter over tubers with success.

I am seeking some help in planning my dahlia bed as I got bitten by the dahlia bug last year and gathered new tubers. How do you work a placement plan with yours? Do you put a lot of thought into what colors or heights are planted next to one another? I don't have the luxury of an extra large bed (or many beds for that matter), but I like a lot of color. I have more tubers than last years initial planting and am kind of at a loss on either putting a lot of thought into what will go where or just planting whatever I grab next and only being mindful of height. Also do you give a lot of space between your plants? This is the only bed that keeps causing me planning issue.

I grow for cuttings for myself, and to make everyone smile when they see the flowers as they pass by. I also am helping my daughter with her 4H flowers project.

Look forward to your responses - what a better way to spend a heavy frost weekend then figuring out future riots of color!
There are always flowers for those who want to see them. — Henri Matisse
Name: Melissa
Omaha, NE (Zone 5b)
Dahlias Cat Lover Region: Nebraska Annuals Cut Flowers Butterflies
Daylilies Bee Lover Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Melissamaeday
May 9, 2020 1:28 PM CST
Welcome to the Dahlia forum, ScarletTricycle!

I am actually drawing up my garden plans this weekend, too. I start by making a list of dahlias by height. I feel the majority of dahlias are 4 ft, so basically what I try to do is figure out the 4.5-6+ ft ones, and put those on the back perimeter of my garden (it's a huge triangle with beds broken up inside). I put the shorter ones near the front of my garden, then just plop the rest of them in. I have tried to make matching beds (same tubers planted on right and left sides of the garden), but usually something rots or fails and it never quite works out the way I think it will.

Everyone does it differently, and no way is wrong!

Name: Sulli
Philadelphia (Zone 7a)
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SulliO
May 9, 2020 5:47 PM CST
Hi there,

I doing something similar to Melissa's plan, I list out the short and tall and then place those front/back with the rest in the middle. Last year I did a very rigorous color gradient or ombre from white to almost black and it was a lot of planning and work. In the end they're never all blooming at the same time and while it was pretty, this year I'm going to relax a little and just group similar colors/heights together. Ultimately I would like to put dahlias all around our beds, popped in for late summer/fall color so this year I'm trying whittle down the varieties I'd like to keep around. I'm also going to do a better job of staking and supporting them since last year I didn't do a great job with that.
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Butterflies
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ScarletTricycle
May 9, 2020 6:42 PM CST
Thank you both! I have mine listed by height and color in my garden book as I got them and for some odd reason this is the only bed that I'm struggling to plan. I don't know why, as last year I just did them by height and enjoyed whatever colors I saw as they bloomed, not worrying what was next to each other. I guess part of my problem is I have a few white or light pastel in with all my hot colors and for some odd reason I wonder if they'll blend in with everything or scream here I am!

My other wonder is how close would you safely plant them? I have a mix of 5ft/4ft/3ft varieties - and more tubers than I did last year. I've read in some places they keep them close, others good breathing room. Mine last year had space and I'm worried I might be over planting my area, as like with any flower, sometimes you have grandiose ideas of fitting one more in. And as I look at what I have purchased, I worry I should have done better editing.

Again, appreciate the welcome and the help. I look forward to continuing to learn about this lovely flower with all your help.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them. — Henri Matisse
Name: Melissa
Omaha, NE (Zone 5b)
Dahlias Cat Lover Region: Nebraska Annuals Cut Flowers Butterflies
Daylilies Bee Lover Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Melissamaeday
May 9, 2020 7:35 PM CST
I plant mine about 12-14 inches apart. I think that the A/AA (giant) dahlias need more space, so I try to give those 24 inches (key word is 'try', I usually fail).

The first couple of years that I grew A LOT of dahlias, I thought I had planted them too close together using my measurements. I have improved at pulling off the bottom/lower leaves and stray stalks, which allows the air to circulate through the garden.

I do tend to get powdery mildew in the late Summer/Fall, and it might be less ornery if my plants were further apart, but my humid climate also affects it, and I just try to be proactive AND reactive.

Hope that helps!
[Last edited by Melissamaeday - May 9, 2020 7:38 PM (+)]
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NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Butterflies
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ScarletTricycle
May 10, 2020 4:33 PM CST
Yes! Thank you! You know the old adage one more flower won't hurt, I can squeeze it on in - happily (or crazy) that's how I went shopping, but then I was gifted some and I traded some and then all of that went from a dozen quickly grew to over two dozen. I still have my eyes on others but I have stopped for this growing season.

I appreciate you taking the time to help me out and hope this evening I can finally look at my space and the measurements you gave me and make a good plan. I will tuck my light ones in as I go and just enjoy the end result. Thank you again!
There are always flowers for those who want to see them. — Henri Matisse
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pirl
Jun 24, 2020 9:17 AM CST
Like a few others, I plant taller ones to the rear, shorter in front (it only makes sense). As for spacing, about a foot apart. When I have tried to "squeeze in just one more", I haven't been happy with the crowding or trying to keep them tied to the stakes.

This is the first year ever that I've thrown color caution to the wind regarding color. Considering those with the wrong name, it became a headache not a pleasure. We'll see what happens.

Like Sulli I'm more relaxed and less anxious. Combinations like Labyrinth and Pineland's Pam definitely are not a match made in heaven so this year Labyrinth has the tuteur all to itself.
Thumb of 2020-06-24/pirl/fb00c6

2020 Labyrinth:



Thumb of 2020-06-24/pirl/b3a922
Thumb of 2020-06-24/pirl/1b4f77

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