09/03/10 1:04PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. There are few perennials that flower in fall, but dahlias are the darlings of autumn. These Mexican natives produce one to six-foot tall plants depending on the variety. The flowers can be as diminutive as a button or as large as a dinner plate with colors such as white, pink, red, yellow, and lavender. They're grouped by flower shape, with cactus, water-lily, and pom-pom being some of the more unusual types.
Dahlias grow best in full sun on warm, fertile, well-drained soil. They take the whole growing season to flower, but once they start, the show is magnificent and lasts till frost. Stake or cage large plants or plants with large flowers to keep them from falling over. Pick them in the morning, place the stem in 2 inches of very hot water and allow it to cool for an hour. They'll last for up to one week.
Dahlias are not hardy in our climate, so once frost has blackened the tops, cut back the plants to the ground. One week later, dig up the tubers, clean off the soil, and store in a dark, cool basement in slightly moistened sand or peat moss.
Now for this week's tip: Off with their heads! - the Brussels sprouts heads that is. If your Brussels sprouts are slow to form sprouts, top the plant to stimulate their growth.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about the grapes! For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!
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