The Dahlias Flower
The dahlia hybrids are most often seen as garden plants. Anders Dahl was an 18th-century Swedish botanist for whom the Dahlia flower is now named after.
There’s so much more to this remarkable perennial than just where its name comes from. Here is some important information you should know about the Dahlia.
The Dahlia or Dahlia hortensis, as it’s called by its scientific name, is a bushy perennial that is easy to spot. As of today, there are more than 50,000 types of dahlias be cultivated. This flower belongs to the Compositae family.
Dahlias are native to northern South America, Mexico and Central America. The Spaniards took them to Europe after they had first been cultivated by the Aztecs. Dahlias made a splash in Europe decorating many gardens.
Roots of the dahlia flower were sent by box from Mexico and then to Holland back in 1872. This box contained a tuber which later became a red flower. Since the bloom of that red flower, dahlias were right back on the breeder list with other plant species so new hybrids could be born.
Description and Characteristics
This flower comes in various colors, sizes and shapes. The different sizes, color, height and petal shape allow you to characterize the different species. That’s why landscapers and florists love it so much.
You can spot the dahlia by the rings of petals. The smaller dahlias have been known to grow up to 1 to 3 feet tall and their flowers get up to 2 to 4 inches in diameter. However, the larger ones can reach up to 6 feet tall with flowers up to 12 inches in diameter.
- Long or Short
- Pointed or Round
- Uniformly or Irregularly Spaced
- Curled at the Edges
The dahlia signifies dignity and elegance. Not only that it also brings with it change, betrayal, travel, and warning. The flower also stands for diversity. Most flowers have two genes; however, the dahlia has eight.
For this, it’s called the Houdini of the garden due to its wondrous shapes, sizes and colors. Many who grow dahlias refer to them as “queen of the autumn garden” because they last from mid-summer to early frost.
Cultivation and Care
Dahlias can handle almost any type of weather. However, if you want the best results, grow them in full sun and in soil that has a lot of organic matter mixed in. You can buy dahlias as seeds, but it may be better to buy them as bulbs or tubers.
Here are some things to know whichever way you decide to buy them:
- If you’re growing them just for cutting purposes, plant them in rows for easy access and for tying in.
- For the first year, treat your dahlias as half hardy bedding plants. By this, I mean put your bulbs under glass before planting them in the ground. Then, once you’ve had your last frost for the year, you can go ahead and plant them in your garden.
- When you begin to plant your bulbs for growth, put dry soil into trays and bury them in it. You can also use sand or compost. Put the tray in a cool, dark place where frost can’t get to it and make sure just the old stem is showing. When the new shoots begin to come up about half an inch, you can put them into the light.
- If you live in Britain, be sure to sow your dahlia seeds in February and March in a greenhouse and make sure you plant the seedlings after all signs of frost are gone.
- It’s time to plant the flowers so they bloom in May. If you have tall growers stake them immediately because the wind could damage them.
- If you want a normal garden arrangement, the flowers can take care of themselves for the season. Of course you’ll have to do the occasional dead-heading and little maintenance to keep it looking nice, but very little work is needed.
- Blooms for cutting and showing, feed them on a regular basis with the highest quality potash liquid feed. For example tomato feed. Also, use disbud for larger and fewer flowers.
- When autumn frosts begin to arrive, it’s time to check to see if you need to protect your dahlias. If so, simply cover them.
Diseases and Pests
Dahlias are a breed of flower that can be vulnerable to several types of pests and diseases. That is the one drawback to having such a beautiful flower in your garden.
Here are some pests and diseases to watch out for:
- Slugs- Slugs love to prey on dahlias. The best way to get rid of them is to use slug pellets. These have proven affective and won’t hurt your flower either.
- Earwigs-This particular pest attacks the flowers and buds. The best way to stop them is to clear away any debris around the plant where they can hide. Also, try upturning a flowerpot on a cane. The next day you can get rid of any earwigs that have hidden under the pot from the night before.
- Aphids-This pest likes to attack buds and fresh shoots. They can also expose your plant to disease so make sure you spray early and regularly.
- Fungal Infections-Believe it or not, dahlias can rot and mildew. They can also wilt which produces stunted and discolored plants. To prevent this, control the disease carrying aphids and use protection on your dahlias. However, once fungal infections happen, there is no cure so if this does happen, you’ll need to burn the infected plant as soon as possible.
The blue dahlia is a unique and beautiful flower. When planting this type of perennial, make sure you follow the instructions on care and maintenance because there are some flowers that prefer sun over shade and some who prefer shade over sun.
Like all flowers, good care and maintenance can lead to great expectations with luscious blooms.
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