|Scientific Name : Dahlia|
|Family : Compositeae|
|Colour : Varied|
|Common names : Dahlia, Dalia|
|Flowering Period : July- October|
Dahlia is a flowering plant from Mexico. Genus of about 30, 000 species with some 20, 000 cultivars. Plants come in a wide array of sizes/ forms from as low as 12 inches to as tall as 6-8 feet with flowers ranging from half-inch to giant sizes. The blooms are curvaceous, spiky with single or double forms. Colours range from white to red, orange to yellow, pink to dark purple and shades thereof. Dahlias last long as cut flowers.
Dahlias can be annuals which flower the first year from seed or perennials which take longer to mature and flower. It is easy to grow except in cold conditions or extreme hot dry weather.Propagation and Planting
Dahlias can propagate or multiply from seeds, root division or cuttings. Single-flowered dahlias produce lots of seed. It is from seed that new varieties are produced. Seeds can be sown 1/2 inch deep in a well drained medium in a container, indoors or outdoors (in warm regions) usually during March/April. They need moist soil and indirect light. The seeds will sprout in 7-21 days. When the sprouts have two or more sets of true leaves (about five weeks) transplant them to three-inch pots and plant them outdoors.
To obtain a same variety of a particular dahlia, propagation should be done by cuttings or tuberous roots. Perennial dahlias are generally purchased as tuberous roots. Annuals, form tuberous roots the first year. These tuberous roots can be saved for use next year. In March or April divide the clumps of the tuberous roots with a sharp knife and take care that each division has a part of the crown that has a bud. The tubers can be planted horizontally with the eye upward (the new growth bud) 3 to 4 inches deep in light soil or sand and should be spaced 6 to 36 inches apart depending on the ultimate size of the plant. For tall plants, once the plant attains sufficient height, it can be secured loosely to a stake so that it stands steady.
Dahlias can be propagated from cuttings to increase the number of plants. When the third or fourth set of leaves forms, plant the cuttings in clean, moist sand. In 2 or 3 weeks, the cuttings will root and you can replant them in pots or in the garden.Care
A light loose sandy soil with organic matter i.e., manure or peat moss or bone meal or by adding vegetative refuse such as leaves etc is the ideal medium for planting Dahlias. Dahlias need full sun and appreciate steady moisture and regular feedings until the flowers start to appear. Watering deeply once a week or everyday in hot weather should be ideal. A fertilizer in the ratio 0-20-20 can be applied around the hole where each tuber is planted. The plant may take 6 -to 8 weeks before any growth becomes visible above ground level.
Pruning and disbudding is necessary if good blooms are to be grown. For a bushier plant, pinch out the growing shoot after plants have produced 4 to 6 pairs of good, strong leaves. A number of buds will appear at the top of the stems. To get maximum sized flowers, some of these buds should be pinched out. If only one bud is allowed to develop, the largest possible flower will be produced. It takes about 6 weeks from the time buds are removed until another series of buds is formed and about three weeks longer for the buds to open.
Dahlia Flower Gallery
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