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I was so busy trying not to get carried away with planting before leaving on my Yellowstone adventure that I failed to plant any dahlias. Now I’m disappointed that these lovely flowers are absent in the front border.

There’s always next year, and I’ll have plenty of glorious dahlias to choose from including these varieties. They should be worth the wait.

“Tartan” — Enormous two-tone flowers in deep burgundy and snowy white with some petals solid and others striped.

“Rip City” — Flowers are almost black in the center and maroon and wine-red at the edges measuring 5 to 6 inches across in a mix of standard and quilled petals.

“Penhill Dark Monarch” — Large, shaggy and shapely petals twist and turn in sunset hues of peach and rose; a late bloomer.

“Magic Sunrise” – Bright flamingo pink bloom with a yellow center measures 6 inches across; plants reach 3 to 4 feet tall.

“Fired Up” — Large red-orange flowers measure 7 inches across with quilled and twisted petals; sure to attract attention.

“Breakout” — Pinkish cream petals surround a pale yellow center; blooms are looser and more informal.

All of these are Longfield Garden dahlias with descriptions from the National Garden Bureau. Longfield Gardens also offers tips for growing better dahlias:

1. Know your tubers. Dahlias can be purchased as single tubers with a bud attached or a clump of tubers around a stem. Dahlias sprout from buds formed in the fall at the base of the stem.

2. Timing. Plant in spring when danger of frost has passed and soil temperature is at least 60 F.

3. Location. Plant in a sunny, well-drained location. Enrich soil with compost and fertilizer. Plant with stem or sprouts upright and top of tuber no more than 1 to 2 inches below the soil.

4. Pinch. When plants are 12 inches tall, pinch off the top of the main stem to encourage branching. Stake or cage plants.

5. Moisture. Water deeply once or twice a week, letting soil dry out in between. Feed with liquid fertilizer once a month during growing season.

6. Reduce problems. Keep foliage as dry as possible to discourage disease and insects. Trim off bottom foliage for air circulation.

7. Be generous. Cutting flowers encourages more flowers; make bouquets for family and friends.

8. Deadhead regularly. Use scissors or pruning shears to cut the spent flowers back to a main stem. This stimulates new growth and longer stems.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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