How to grow Dahlias
Latin Name Pronunciation: dah'lee-uh
Originally from Mexico, dahlia is a tuberous plant that was named after a famous botanist named Dahl. With its long flowering, this magnificent flowering plant is cultivated to enhance beauty of garden and to decorate terraces from early summer until late autumn or (from fall till spring in warm countries). Not very demanding, the dahlia just needs some care to grow well.
The Dahlia is a perennial plant of the Asteraceae family discovered in Mexico in the 18th century. Consumed by native populations by its roots, the dahlia plant soon became popular for its beautiful ornamental flowers. Nowadays, this plant is cultivated so much to illuminate gardens and terraces as to beautify with its sumptuous inflorescences of orange, pink, red or white.
A dahlia for each part of the house
It is useful to know that dahlias come in a multitude of species that differ in color and size. Among them, the most common varieties are the cactus dahlia, the pompom dahlia, the ornamental dahlia and the simple dahlia. If you want to grow dahlias on a balcony or a terrace, prefer dwarf species. Instead, choose without hesitation species of slender and elongated size if you want to bring a bright and luminous touch to your garden massifs, platforms or parterres. Whether intended for gardens or balconies, dahlias are bulbous plants that should be planted in the ground in the spring for a generous flowering that will extend from early summer until the first frost appears. However, in India and Pakistan it is grown in winter because of very hot summer.
How to plant dahlias
Before planting your dahlias, it is essential to choose a place that enjoys good exposure to light and does not receive too much wind. With regard to the type of soil, it will be convenient to choose a rich, well-aerated and rather light soil, knowing that dahlias do not develop well on too heavy soil. In general, it is necessary to wait until April or May to be able to proceed with the plantation of the dahlias. However, it is possible to plant from the month of March to obtain a much earlier flowering, but in India or Pakistan plant them in August or September. pH level of soil should be 6.5-7.0 at 60 F soil temperature. The planting procedure consists of planting the tubers in a substrate composed of moist compost and then placing them in a warm and well-lit environment at depth of 6-8 inches and 1-3 feet apart, with "eyes" facing up. After 2-3 weeks young buds will make their appearance, it is recommended not to water the substrate and to favor the use of a vaporizer to wet the tubers well.
How to divide and stake dahlias
To divide the dahlias, it reaches with cutting the tuber in two equal parts to the arrival of spring, making sure that each of the halves obtained has at least one stem. In order to proceed with the staking, it is necessary to extract an outbreak sufficiently resistant and to plant it in a pot of average depth, that will be placed in a dry and warm place. Finally, note that dahlias can also grow from the germination of seeds, previously collected from a flower and then planted in a light and moist soil. After germination, there will be nothing left but to wait for spring (or fall in places with very hot summer) to finally be able to plant the young dahlias in soil, in a well-lit place protected from the wind.
How to keep dahlias
To properly care for plants, make sure the soil is slightly moist, as dahlias develop especially well on fresh soils. Therefore, make sure that watering is frequent so the soil stays well moist. During flowering, regularly remove dead leaves, damaged stems and withered flowers to ensure that the plant does not run out and that the inflorescences can be renewed. When the first frosts appear and the leaves lose their beautiful green color, remove the remaining stems, pick-up the tubers and keep them in a dry place, away from the humidity. As for diseases, you should protect your plants from snails and mites. In case of attack, favor ecological solutions such as mulching or wood ash, which do not pollute the environment and avoid the use of chemical treatments too aggressive to the plant.