Friday, December 18, 2015


Dahlias have an interesting history... 

 The first tubers arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century, sent over to Madrid by the Spanish settlers in Mexico.
Andreas Dahl (after who the plant is named) regarded it as a vegetable rather than a garden flower, but interest switched from the edible tubers to the blooms when the first varieties with large, double flowers were bred in Belgium in 1815 .... The dahlia is named after Swedish 18th-century botanist Anders Dahl. In German the dahlia was known during most of the 19th century as Georgia, being named after the naturalist Johann Gottlieb Georgi of St. Petersburg,Russia

 Within a few years nearly every colour we now admire had been introduced and Victorian catalogues listed hundreds of varieties.
The favourites in those days were the Ball and Small Decorative Dahlias.
Today it is the Large Decorative and Cactus varieties which capture the public fancy. Fashions change but the popularity of this late summer flower continues to increase.
The reasons for this devotion to the Dahlia are fairly obvious. First of all the skill of the breeders in America, Australia, Germany, Holland, and England has produced a range of sizes and colours unmatched in the world of garden flowers.

Plants ranging from dwarf bedding (twelve inches high) to giants taller than a man. Flowers range in size from an inch to the largest dinner plate.
Equally important is the time of flowering.
From the end of July to the first frosts, Dahlias provide large amounts of colour when so many flowers are past their best.
Above all the Dahlia is an accommodating plant.
It likes a good loam, but will grow almost anywhere.
 It relishes sunshine, but can still do well in partial shade.
A bed just for Dahlias is really the ideal way of growing them, but they are quite at home in the herbaceous border or even the rockery for dwarf bedding varieties.

While moderately heat-resistant, dahlias grown from seeds for first-year bloom will burn out in midsummer except in northern and cool western gardens. Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Set out in moist, fertile soil when danger of frost is over. Tall plants may need staking. Tubers will mature at base of main stem at end of first season. Save plants you like by digging up tuber cluster, shaking off soil, and storing during winter in a cool, moist place. Separate tubers carefully before planting. These flowers prefer warm weather. Dahlias are commonly grown as an annual but they can be grown as a perennial if their tubers are dug up shortly after the first frost. To dig up a dahlia properly, simply dig the frost blackened plant out of the ground. Brush (not wash) as much soil off as possible and then cut the stems back to about 6 inches. Set them out in a cool dry place to dry for a day or two. Basements or garages are ideal for this. After they have dried out a bit, dust them with a bit of fungicide and pack them away. Packing them in vermiculite or sand will help to ensure that the tuber will not be affected by fungal infestations.

Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, perennial plants native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. There are at least 36 species of dahlia. Dahlia hybrids are commonly grown as garden plants. The Aztecs gathered and cultivated the dahlia for food, ceremonies, as well as decorative purposes, and the long woody stem of one variety was used for small pipes.

 Any of the 30 species of tuberous-rooted herbaceous plants that make up the genus Dahlia, in the aster family, native to higher elevations of Mexico and Central America. The leaves of most are segmented and toothed or cut. About six species have been bred for cultivation as ornamental flowers. Wild species have both disk and ray flowers in the flowering heads, but many varieties of ornamentals, such as the common garden dahlia (D. bipinnata), have shortened ray flowers. Dahlia flowers may be white, yellow, red, or purple

Dahlias are easily propagated by division. Simply replant the tubers and wait until the growth reaches between a half inch to a full inch. Dig the plant back up and divide the clump into a few pieces. Each new clump needs to have a shoot on it.

Dahlia Plants ranging from dwarf bedders (twelve inches high) to giants taller than a man. Flowers range in size from an inch to the largest dinner plate. The Dahlia seeds will germinate a little faster when we use a heating mat, or place them on top of a refrigerator for heat. Dahlia bulbs are a subterranean root system, comprising many distinct tubers, each a separate lump. These allow the dahlia plant to mature year after year without benefit of seed or spores. To sprout the next season, each tuber must have one eye. 

Dahlias Plant Care

• Dahlia plants become massive and need support.
• The large flowering types, particularly, become very tall and, because of the succulent nature of their stems, require support to prevent plant breakage and loss of large blooms.
• Tie plants to the stake that was driven next to them at planting time.
• When using a string or soft twine for tying dahlias, tie loosely to the stem to avoid constricting the developing plant.
• Start tying dahlias when they are about 1 foot tall, and continue to tie them at intervals of approximately 1 foot throughout the growing season. Individual stalks should be tied when buds begin to form and enlarge.