Growing Dahlia Flowers
Dahlias: Charming and Elegant Beauty
Dahlia flowers are popular because of its charming and elegant beauty. This perennial tuber is a native of Colombia, Mexico, and other regions in Central America. Dahlias come in broad spectrum of colors, including yellow, orange, purple, white, pink, red, and a vast range of tints. For example: dark pink to pale pink.
Dahlia flowers also come in different shapes and sizes – petals can be spherical, flat or lance-shaped. The dwarf varieties normally produce 3-inch (diameter) flowers, and giants produce flowers with a diameter of around 12 inches. Some varieties are low growing, while others can grow as high as six feet.
With dahlias extensive varieties, they are very useful in beautifying your home and garden—-from border plants to astounding backdrop.
They make superb cut flowers as vase life can last a week. Clusters of dahlias instantly highlight your landscape with their sun-kissed flowers that bloom profusely from late summer to fall.
Maintaining long straight rows of Dahlias are convenient to manage, but at the same time soothing to the eyes.
A 12-inch Dahlia flower head creates a dramatic and amazing look. With dahlias, bringing your garden to life is a breeze.
Propagation is usually by seed, tubers or cuttings. It’s easy to grow dahlias from seeds so many gardeners prefer this propagation method. But just so you know, dahlia produces a tuber/s during its first year and some gardeners prefer to dig and replant this tuber.
In warmer areas, it’s better to sow the seeds outdoors than indoors. But in colder areas, it’s the opposite.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Start Dahlia seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date for transplanting later on. It is advisable to sow seeds with an inch of space from each other using a seedling tray filled with a fine seed starting mix. Cover them lightly. The best temperature for germination is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept damp but not soggy. The seeds will sprout in 1 to 3 weeks. Providing a bottom heat helps speed up the germination process. You may use heating cables or a warm surface of the freezer. Transplant the seedlings when two or more sets of true leaves have appeared.
Propagation of Dahlias by Tubers
The trick is not to plant too early because the plants may produce poor flowers. The recommendable time to plant is from mid April through May. Dahlias may be planted at the same time as when you would plant vegetables. Choose a planting site that is rich, moist and has plenty of humus. Access to full sun is required to produce healthy blooms.
Lay Dahlia tuber 4-inch to 6-inch deep into the hole with eyes facing up. Space tubers 18 to 24 inches apart then cover lightly with soil. Do not water dahlia tubers after planting until the sprouts have emerged at the surface. If you are in a hot region, water the tubers lightly. Mulching or using bark dust to cover Dahlias is not recommended because it will prevent the soil from warming up.
How to Grow Dahlia Flowers
When transplanting young Dahlia plants, choose a bright location that receives 6 to 10 hours of sunlight every day, as this is needed for flower production. The soil must be well-drained and well-cultivated.
Provide shading during the hottest time of the day, especially if you are in a very hot region (temp that exceeds 90 degrees). This may cause fading and reduce blooming quality. Stable irrigation must also be provided if your location does not receive summer rainfall. Water Dahlia plants once or twice a week during dry weather conditions or as conditions require.
Dahlias are heavy feeders and they require a low nitrogen fertilizer. Initial application must be within 30 days of planting, and repeat after about 3 to 4 weeks. Do not over-fertilize Dahlia plants. The recommended analyses are as follows: 0-20-20, 5-10-10, or 10-20-20. Never use compost, high nitrogen water soluble fertilizers, and fish fertilizers because these may cause damage to the stems, blooms and tubers.
Caring for Dahlia Flowers
Pinch the center to promote bushiness. Remove weeds as these may deprive your Dahlias of needed nutrients and light for optimum growth and flowering. Do not use herbicide! Your only option here is hand weeding.
Pests and Diseases
The major enemies of Dahlias are snails, slugs, spider mites, cucumber beetle, earwigs and white powdery mildew. For spider mites, earwigs, cucumber beetle, and other insects, the recommended sprays are Malathion and Bon-Neem. For mildew, you may use Daconil or Fung-onil.