FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50


Longfield Gardens Blog

Planting Dahlias in Your Vegetable Garden

Posted by Kath LaLiberte on May 5, 2016

dahlia-thomas-edison.jpg

One thing all dahlia lovers have in common is a shortage of growing space. No matter how big your garden is, there are always more must-have varieties than you have room for.

Last spring, I filled up my cutting garden and perennial beds with plants I had started in my greenhouse and still had 6 or 8 extra dahlias. I could have given them away, but they were varieties I hadn’t grown before and I really wanted to see them bloom. After wandering around the yard looking for possible planting spots, I thought… why not the vegetable garden?

Dahlias are energetic plants with big appetites and they are at their best when grown in rich, loamy soil with access to as much moisture and fertilizer as they want. I discovered that if you give them the same growing conditions as a tomato plant, they do amazing things!

dahlia-Icoon-in-tomato-cage.jpg

Tomato cages work great for supporting plants in my cutting garden, so I used them here as well. In the spring, I wrapped fabric around the cages (as I do with my tomatoes) to protect them from wind and cool nights. Both are tropicals and love all the extra warmth they can get. Above is  ‘Icoon‘ with its first flowers just starting to open.

Below is another picture of that same plant, taken from the opposite direction a few weeks later. The cage is now completely hidden by foliage and buds. On the left side against the fence is ‘H.S. Date‘, growing happily between lemongrass and oregano.

Dahlia Icoon-and-HS-Date.jpg

Below is a photo from mid-August. The tomato cages are still doing their job, keeping the plants nice and straight. Note that the flowers of Icoon are actually more orange than they appear here in early morning light.

dahlias-in-vegetable-garden.jpg

Thomas Edison‘ (also shown in the first image in this blog post) wound up with the summer squash and pumpkins. Everyone is always impressed by the size of dinnerplate dahlias, and the plants easily held their own with those big-leaved vines.

Dahlia-Thomas-Edison.jpg

I’ll leave you with one more photo from last year. ‘H.S. Date‘ is a single dahlia and I wasn’t sure I’d be a big fan. But I loved its dark foliage and the blossoms have long stems that are great for cutting. What sealed the deal was seeing how many bees and hummingbirds are drawn to the flowers.

From late summer through fall, I could look out my office window almost any time of day and see hummingbirds working their way around the plants.  My camera doesn’t have a very powerful zoom lens, but if you look at the top flower that’s facing away from the camera, you can see one of those hummingbirds stopping by for a sip.

dahlia-with-hummingbird.jpg

By keeping my vegetable garden a little tidier than usual and being more diligent with succession planting, I still had plenty of room for edibles. So I’m repeating the idea this year and adding some gladiolas, too. If you are looking for more places to be planting summer bulbs, consider feeding your passion by mixing them in with your vegetables!

Topics: Dahlias Inspiration Summer Blooming Bulbs

Kathleen LaLiberte has been writing about gardening for more than 30 years from her home in northern Vermont, where she tends a half acre of flowers, vegetables and fruit. She has been working with Longfield Gardens since 2011.

2 Replies to “Planting Dahlias in Your Vegetable Garden”

  1. Thanks for the tip. I have the same problem with Dahlias and my vegetable garden is pretty with dahlia blooms mixed in, I actually redesigned a perennial garden last fall so i could fit more dahlias this year.

    I would caution against putting glads in your vegetable garden. They really spread and can be hard to get rid of (I’m in western Washington, it might be different in Vermont).

    1. Thanks for the tip, Carol. Plants behave so differently in different climates. I treat glads as annuals, so in the early fall I use a garden fork to gently lift out the plants with corms attached. That way the little bublets around the corms stay attached and very few wind up staying in the bed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic