Cafe Au Lait Dahlias are old fashioned and dreamy. The flowers are soft ,beautifully creamy, and perfectly large. They are fabulous wedding blooms, and also the perfect everyday pick me up blooms for the romantic at heart. Learn how to grow Cafe Au Lait Dahlias for cutting, to make beautiful bouquets from your own cutting garden.
How To Grow Cafe Au Lait Dahlias
Cafe Au Lait Dahlias are easy to grow. They are tender perennials which grow from tubers planted six inches deep in good fertile soil. Plant them in full sun after the risk of all frost has passed. Within three months you will have beautiful blooms of Cafe Au Lait.
Are Cafe Au Lait Dahlias Hard To Grow?
Most Dahlias are easy to grow, whether large or small. Cafe Au Lait is included in this group, and of course fits under the category of the larger sized plant and bloom!
Growing is the easy part.
End of the season care is the more difficult aspect of any growing dahlias, including Cafe Au Laits. Lifting and dividing is an arduous task, and most gardeners do this to save their dahlias for the next season.
There are some locations in zone 6 and up, that opt to leave the tubers in the ground over winter, heavily mulched and protected from the cold.
We are not so lucky in zone 5, and definitely must lift the tubers to save them from being lost in the freezing temperatures of winter.
That being said, the benefits of lifting at the end of the season will also mean that you can divide these beauties.
From one comes many. It will not take long to increase your supply and you can have a garden filled with Cafe Au Lait Dahlias!
Are Cafe Au Lait Dahlias Hard To Grow In Canada?
Growing Cafe Au Lait In Canada is definitely doable. We are in zone 5 here in Nova Scotia.
The key to getting blooms on your dahlias is to get them in the ground as soon as you can after the risk of frost has passed. That way your plants will have ample time to grow and bloom.
You can also give the tubers a head start by planting in pots to start the growing process a little earlier, then planting them outside when it is safe to do so.
We generally do not grow in pots, as we have lots of tubers to go into the field. If you have just a few, growing in pots early and then planting these plants out into the garden is certainly manageable.
All plants grown inside will need to be hardened off before being planted out, even when the weather warms up. The tender leaves of dahlias planted inside will scorch in the sun and wither in the winds unless acclimatized gradually to the outdoor elements.
Here is a post on hardening off:
Cafe Au Lait Zone
Cafe Au Laits are considered tender perennials from zones 7 to 10. In colder zones they are grown as an annual, because freezing temperatures will cause their demise.
You can grow Cafe Au Lait Dahlias in any zone as long as you have enough growing time. The key is to have enough frost free growing time to enable the plants to produce blooms. Four months of frost free growing time will allow you to successfully grow Cafe Au Lait Dahlias.
Consider a greenhouse space as well if needed for season extension.
We plant in mid to late May and will have blooms by mid to late August. These blooms will put on an amazing display until the first hard frost.
One year we were harvesting dahlias late into October, when all others flowers were finished blooming and the leaves on the trees were in full autumn colours.
Plant Profile For Cafe Au Lait Dahlias
- Cafe Au Lait Dahlias can grow to 4 or 5 feet in height in ideal growing conditions.
- The plant width can be several feet wide.
- The blooms can grow up to 10 inches in diameter, as this is a dinner plate variety. Our blooms for Cafe Au Lait tend to be slightly smaller than dinner plate size, and are generally around 6 or 7 inches in width.
Dahlia Cafe Au Lait Seeds
Planting Cafe Au Lait seeds is a wonderful way to add dahlias to your garden, and is highly recommended.
The seeds however will not grow Cafe Au Lait dahlias, but rather hybrids, of which Cafe Au Lait is the seed parent.
You may be lucky to have a beautiful hybrid on your hands coming from one of those seeds. Cafe Au Lait is the parent of many beautiful dahlia hybrids. One that we grow in our garden which I absolutely LOVE is KA’s Cloud, from Kristine Albrecht of Santa Cruz Dahlias.
Last year we managed to save some seeds from our Cafe Au Laits, and we are waiting with anticipation to see what the new seedlings will look like.
How To Plant Cafe Au Lait Dahlias
There are several ways to plant Cafe Au Lait Dahlias.
1. Plant Up Early In Pots
- You can start the Cafe Au Lait tubers early before the last frost, inside or in a heated structure, by planting in pots. This will awaken the tuber and it will start to grow.
- These plants will have a head start on growing, compared with those tubers that are planted out later, directly into the ground when the risk of frost is finished.
2. Cafe Au Lait Rooted Cuttings
- You can take cuttings from the Cafe Au Lait tubers that you have started early inside.
- Take cuttings from the fresh growth and make sure that you also take a small piece of the tuber at the base of the cutting.
- Plant each cutting into a good seed starting mix, and keep moist until rooted.
- Plant the rooted cuttings into the garden when safe from frost. These cuttings will develop into plants and will also develop tubers throughout the season.
- This is a great way to increase your stock of coveted Dahlias.
3. Plant Tubers Directly Into The Garden
Here are a couple of tubers in the photo above ready for planting. Most of our tubers tend to sprout while we are awaiting a frost free period.
It’s okay to have these sprouts, and they will not be harmed when they are planted and covered with soil.
- You can plant the Cafe Au Lait Dahlia tubers directly into your garden bed after the risk of all frost has passed.
- Make sure that your garden soil is fertile, and full off lots of organic matter.
- Dig a 6 inch hole and lay the tuber horizontally, with the eyes or sprouts facing upwards.
- Cover with soil.
- Do not water the newly planted tubers until you see the dahlia foliage emerging from the soil. If you water while they are still starting to sprout you are placing the tubers at risk for rotting.
- The dahlias will start to sprout and become visible above the soil within a few weeks.
Where To Plant Cafe Au Lait Dahlia
- Plant in full sun if possible. Cafe Au Lait Dahlias will tolerate some shade, however do better in a full sun location.
- Soil should be fertile and light. Amend with compost at planting time. We also use bone meal.
- Avoid compacted clay soil, as the tubers will not grow as well in this type of soil. If growing in clay, which is what we have in our garden, ensure lots of organic matter is added to the planting area for your Cafe Au Lait dahlia tubers to grow to their optimal size.
Cafe Au Lait Dahlia Care
- Pinch your Cafe Au Lait dahlias when they are 8 to 12 inches tall. This will encourage side branching and will help to prevent the main stem from forming into a large hollow tubular stem.
- I have to admit that I have not always pinched. This was mainly due to our shorter growing season, and pinching does set the plants back several weeks as the new side shoots develop.
- Those Dahlias that were not pinched did develop those rather larger and hollow stems, and still did fine.
- If you are selling to florists however the larger stems are not ideal.
- Water as necessary, however remember not to water until your dahlias have emerged from the soil.
- Overwatering will lead to rotting of tubers.
- This tends to happen naturally, and usually every year some tubers are lost regardless of the watering schedule.
Cafe Au Lait Spacing
- Cafe Au Lait dahlia tubers should be planted into the garden soil six inches deep and 12 inches apart. This close spacing will help the plants support each other as they grow up. We plant in three foot wide rows, with two rows of dahlias running lengthwise down the row, within the three foot width.
- The 12 inch spacing supports the dahlias within the rows, and we also corral with twine on the outside of the rows to give additional support.
- If you are not planting in rows, but rather into your garden in different spots, you can still use the 12 inch spacing as a guideline, however you can plant the tubers further apart if you wish.
- Cafe Au Lait Dahlias will grow tall, and the blooms can be heavy, and the stems can be blown over in the wind.
- It is important to secure the dahlias with some method of support.
- In our garden we support the plants by using a corral method. This involves placing stakes along each side of the row, and stringing between the stakes with twine, essentially corralling the dahlias in their space.
- If the wind blows them over, they fall onto the twine and are held in the upright position.
- You can also support each Dahlia that you plant by placing a stake next to the individual plant, and tieing the main stem to the stake for support.
- We support individual plants this way as needed, even while using the corral method.
When Do Cafe Au Lait Dahlias Bloom?
Cafe Au Laits will bloom within 2.5 to 3 months of planting. The plants and blooms are on the larger side as far as dahlias go, and need a bit of extra time for growth.
If planted in the right growing conditions, expect beautiful blooms after this period of time. They will continue to bloom until frost.
Cafe Au Lait Dahlia Cut Flower
Stage For Cutting
- Knowing the stage at which to cut all Dahlias is important, including the Cafe Au Lait.
- The blooms are best harvested when they are 3/4 to fully open, but before they start to age. You know that they are past their prime when you feel the backs of the blooms and they have a dry tissue paper feel to them.
- You can see the changes as the flowers age by looking at the back of the bloom. If the flowers are still fresh this will be evident on the back of the blooms.
- If you see browning and dry petals, then they are past their prime.
Procedure For Cutting
- Cutting a stem of Cafe Au Lait and any other Dahlia for that matter, is quite easy to do once you learn the technique.
- When making the cut, reach deep into the plant and down along the stem , making the cut at an arms length if you can.
- This allows for nice long cut flower stems, and once cut will signal to the plant to produce stronger and longer stems from a lower level on the plant.
- Remove leaves and side stems along the bottom 2/3rds of the stem, although I like to leave a bud or two.
- We do this in the field before placing the stems into water.
- Place immediately into a clean bucket of water, and allow the dahlias to sit for several hours in a cool shady spot out of the sun.
- Conditioning Dahlias will help prolong the vase life. We use some flower food in our water which really helps.
Cafe Au Lait Dahlia Vase Life
- Cafe Au Laits as well as most other Dahlias do not have the longest of vase lives.
- They are good in the vase from five to seven days, and that is with conditioning and floral preservative.
- Make sure to change the water daily for longest vase life.
Cafe Au Lait Dahlia Bouquet
- Bouquets filled with Cafe Au Lait Dahlias are so nostalgic and romantic. Even placing buds in the arrangements is intriguing.
- Growing Cafe Au Laits and using them in bouquets is quite easy, and the end results are magical and rewarding.
Cafe Au Laits As A Dried Flower
- Dahlias can be dried and used in everlasting bouquets as well, and Cafe Au Lait is no exception.
- If cutting for use as a dried flower, cut when fully open.
- Hang upside down to dry in a warm dark location.
Have you tried to grow Cafe Au Lait Dahlias?
Be sure to comment below, we would love to hear your experiences!