If you've never planted dahlias in your garden, you are in for a spectacular treat. Start by deciding color, size and your planting location (sun loving). Dahlias come in many vibrant colors and sizes, from very small pompom shapes to large plat-size blooms. These flowers are planted by tubers, a long-shaped bulb, in the spring and bloom that same summer and/or fall. This fast growing perennial is considered a hardy flowering plant and can be grown in all U.S. planting zones.
Zones 1, 2 and 3
Colder climates, zones 1, 2 and 3, require removal of dahlia tubers from the ground. Freezing temperatures will render the tubers unusable. You might consider planting your dahlia tubers in containers. This will allow you to remove them from the outdoors, before the first frost, and store them in a location in which they won't freeze. Bring them indoors and place them by a bright window, the next spring, to start them early.
After the last frost, in your location, set them outdoors. Plant any of the dahlia varieties in these zones, but be sure to observe the rule of removal before freezing winter months emerge. Try these varieties: Jane Cowl, Juanita, Thomas A. Edison, White Aster or Yellow Gem.
Zones 4, 5, 6 and 7
Zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 can receive freezing winter conditions. It's safest to remove the dahlia tubers before the first frost of the season, in these locations. Again, planting these tuberous flowers in containers is an option to digging them up each year. All varieties will grow in these zones, as long as they are removed from the outdoors in winter months. Consider trying these varieties: Andries' Orange, Bishop of Llandaff, Bloodstone, Clair De Lune or Hockley Maroon.
Zones 8, 9, 10 and 11
In the warmer zones, 8, 9, 10 and 11 dahlia tubers may be left in the ground throughout the year. These flowers are at their best in warm , dry climates. However, these tubers are not only sensitive to freezing temperatures, but also to sopping soil. If you live in a warm location that also receives a lot of winter moisture, you will want to dig the tubers up, for storage, during the wet months.
If you live in zone 8 and occasionally get freezing winter temperatures, it's better to remove the dahlias from the ground, to be safe. Some varieties that grow particularly well in these zones are: Kaiser Wilhelm, Jersey Beauty, Bodacious and Figaro.