Dave's Miracle-Gro dahlia delights | Love The Garden

Dave's Miracle-Gro dahlia delights

John Clowes's picture
By John Clowes
Dave with his Award Winning Dahlias

Champion dahlia grower, Dave Gillam, praises Miracle-Gro and Tomorite plant foods for the quality of his prize-winning dahlia flowers.

“Switching exclusively to Miracle-Gro plant foods and Tomorite has given me the most successful year ever”, says Dave Gillam, champion dahlia exhibitor. “I have found that Miracle-Gro Plant Food is important to balanced growth, and Tomorite plays a key role in encouraging award-winning blooms. The Miracle-Gro family of plant foods performs amazingly well, and if they are good enough for championship dahlias they have to be a great help to ordinary gardeners.”

Despite being a young man, Dave has had many years of experience as he started growing his own dahlias for exhibition at the age of 10. Dave has now reached the pinnacle of dahlia growers, winning County Champion and Silver Medal (Best in Show) awards at the Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Midlands and Welsh National shows. As part of the Kent Dahlia Society team, Dave also helped to win the Herbert Brown Challenge Cup at the National Dahlia Show at Shepton Mallett, in September.

Doubling up

Dave’s latest news is that he is now a double champion – winning the Society class at Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, where he supplied all but 3 blooms in what was said to be one of the best exhibits in this class for many years. His ‘Kenora Valentine’ blooms went on to win best and runner-up Giants in the show, and his vase of ‘Whinholme Diane’ won best Decoratives in show. He also won the Large Semi-cactus championship. Overall, the Harrogate show provided a 5 national medal haul.

Miracle-Gro improves growth and overall results

From his back garden in Stock, Near Chelmsford, Essex, Dave grows 600 dahlia plants in a 300sq m (360sq yd) plot, spending all spring and summer tending just a few varieties for exhibition in August and September.

He roots his own cuttings from saved tubers warmed into growth in spring. This year the rooted cuttings were grown on in the new Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro compost, where they produced a perfect root system that was free from any root rot. “At the early stages of growth, dahlias need plenty of watering and an occasional feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser,” says Dave. “Later, they need a balanced feed and the traditional Miracle-Gro Soluble All Purpose Plant Food produced strong, sturdy growth this year.”

“Summer feeding for top quality blooms needs a high potash feed,” Dave added. “This year I switched exclusively to Tomorite for flower production. It has a 4-3-8 formula with added magnesium and the results have been extraordinary. The results on the show bench speak for themselves. It’s my best season ever.”

Many pictures of Dave’s show successes can be seen on the National Dahlia Society website. He has also posted many films of his techniques and successes on YouTube.

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