Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tree Dahlia Chop and Prune


A lovely few days of spring weather came in the last week of August this year, so the gardener in me came out to take care of my lovely Tree Dahlias (not to be confused with the Giant Dahlias - I often do). These winter flowering beauties grow to around 3-4m (9-13ft) on average.


Flowers: June to mid-September in Australia



Propagation

Tree Dahlias are so easy to grow from cuttings, you only need to lay a cutting down on it's side and it will spring roots. Choose a stem that has at least two nodes. Many gardeners recommend planting three stalk cuttings together side by side for best shooting results.

Alternatively Tree Dahlias can be propagated by transplanting their intact tubers.


Butterfly & Bee Garden

Caterpillars love Tree Dahlias so if you are looking for good plants to attract butterflies and bees then this one should make it to the top of your list. In the last month of winter you may find that the leaves are gobbled up by hungry caterpillars; relax as the plants are coming to a natural wind down and do not flower beyond the first month of Spring. Tree Dahlias do not seem to attract the annoying cabbage moths, thankfully.

The active time for the bees is a relatively short one, but it delights the bees for at least a week or two.


Yearly Care

I always choose the last month of winter, usually the last week just before spring to cut back my Tree Dahlias.

Maintenance of these gorgeous sky scrapers is necessary, especially if grown near boundary fences like in my garden. They develop a tuber root system, very much like a sweet potato in size but not eatable. Digging them out from time to time is good for the plant as well as the fence.

Every year the Tree Dahlia send up new shoots from its base so cutting out this year's spent stalks is fine.

You my even choose to leave a couple of good flowering stalks go an extra month and tend to them later when they have fully finished and dry out.

The more greener, thinner stalks should only be cut back by 2/3 as they may produce more stalks later.

Anything old and hollow needs to be removed. You may find a great deal of bug activity in those hollows, so encourage the chickens to join you to help clean them up as you work.


Tools

A small hacksaw and garden fork are ideal.

As the stalks get quite woody and dry as they age, a hacksaw does the job superbly to take them out first.

The garden fork is necessary for digging down deep enough to find the tuber bulbs and root system. They can be deceptively deeper than expected.

You will be rewarded with beautiful new stalks, full of flowers next year.

♥♥♥

5 comments:

  1. The tall ones blow down, I wonder if pruning to bush out is practicable

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  2. Heavy rains over fill the stems so they fall over. Right now they should be in full bloom so do not prune. Wait until late in the year for their annual cut back. Any branches that look ominous can have a light cut back but not the enter plant.

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  3. Heavy rains over fill the stems so they fall over. Right now they should be in full bloom so do not prune. Wait until late in the year for their annual cut back. Any branches that look ominous can have a light cut back but not the enter plant.

    ReplyDelete
  4. G'day from Kingaroy, Qld.!
    I noticed bees, native n European, prefer my pink flowering type, by-passing my white. My 4 white type grew with multiple stems/trunks which are not flowering now, but have green stems with leafy tops. My 2 pink had only 1 trunk each. 1 pink is still leafy-n-flowering, the other is just a tall brown, dead-looking trunk; is that still worth cutting-n-planting?
    Cheers! Eric Mitchell bolham01@gmail.com
    NB: I have cut some green canes which are now soaking in water with Seasol ready for planting.

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  5. The best time to cut them back is in winter after they’ve finished flowering at the end of winter. You can decide which canes you prefer at that time. Mine have already died back from a June flowering. So if I were to propagate them, I would've have done that about a fortnight ago. They really need to void of any fresh looking green leaves to be ready. Yes, plant out what you have now, Eric.

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