A Guide to Growing and Caring for Dahlia
First discovered in the late 1500s, the Dahlia flowers are a beautiful addition to any bouquet or vase. Next to Central America and Mexico, the Dahlia plant belongs to the Asteraceae plant family. The Dahlia plant grows as a bushy and herbaceous perennial plant and can very well be grown indoors as well.
The Dahlia plant was first recognized in Mexico and thus, is recognized as the country’s National flower. The plant is also a prominent decoration in weddings as it is believed to symbolize commitment and everlasting union.
Do you Know the Dahlia Growth Stages?
Grows from tubers
Dahlias are rather popular flowers. They are often spotted in different floral decorations at weddings, festivals and even normal indoor decorations. But have you ever wondered about the process that leads to the blooming of a Dahlia flower?
Let’s start with a Dahlia plant. The Dahlia plant matures only with some proper care. Once the plant matures, it produces tiny buds. These buds take some to gradually start opening up. The bud, as it opens up, starts taking the shape of the flower. And after some days, we have a beautiful Dahlia flower in the place of the bud that we earlier saw.
The buds in the Dahlia plant generally form during the fall. These buds are situated just above the tubers, a food processing unit of the Dahlia plant. Remember, Dahlias grow from these tubers and not from Dahlia bulbs.
Dahlia Heights: Does it vary?
Varies for varieties
The Dahlia plant is close to plants such as the Chrysanthemum, Daisy, Sunflower, Zinnia, etc. Similar to these plants, the Dahlia plant’s height can also differ from one plant to the other. Some varieties can grow up to a meagre height of 30 centimetres. But certain other varieties can grow as tall as 2.4 meters.
The Many Colours of Dahlias
A host of different colours
Dahlias have several varieties as their subspecies. Many hybrid variants of the Dahlia flower are also very common throughout the world. All these variants have different-coloured flowers. These flowers are available in almost all colours. There are black dahlia flowers (Dahlia Pinnata), purple dahlia flowers (Dahlia Imperialis), red dahlia flowers (Dahlia Coccinea), yellow dahlia flowers (Star Dahlia), etc.
All, but one colour. Yes, though the Dahlias are a very wide variety of plants, there is no variety of the plant that produces a blue coloured flower. There are colours like navy blue, or deep blue, but no one’s been able to create a true blue Dahlia.
Growing Dahlias in Pots
A great indoor plant
We are confident enough that you have surely seen a Dahlia planted in a pot, be it in someone’s home, office, a park, or even a nearby garden. Yes, Dahlias are so common that they are found in almost every garden or household.
Fret not, growing Dahlia plants in pots is not a tough job at all. Here is a step-by-step guide on growing Dalhia plants in pots, at home, all by yourself.
⦁ Fill around one-third of your planter with some fertile and well-draining soil. You can also add some manure and other organic matter to boost the soil quality.
⦁ Gently lay the tuber down on the potting soil, making sure that the sprouting part is facing upwards. Layer it with more potting soil, so that it is completely covered.
⦁ Now, water the soil and place the pot at a place that receives the full sun, and also is a little windy.
First things first, decide on the kind of Dahlias that you want to plant. You can do this per your preferred size of the plant and the blooms, the region you live in, and the amount of knowledge that you have regarding the growth of that variety.
It is advisable to plant a Dahlia during the spring season. The spring season is the growing season of plants. If you plant the Dahlia in the late spring season ensure that the plant isn’t threatened by frost that might disturb the soil and consequently, the roots of the plant. So, before you plant your Dahlias, make sure that the temperature of the ground is above 16 degrees Celsius.
Always place your Dahlias at a spot that receives bright sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours through the day. Also, while choosing the spot, make sure that it just receives low wind. Winds of high intensity are harmful to the plant as they can dislodge the stems from the plant.
A constant supply of water is necessary to ensure that your Dahlia plant remains healthy and blooms well. You must water the plant once or twice a week, regularly. While watering, it is better that you water the base of the plant, keeping the foliage dry. Ensure that you water the plant deeply.
Also, you must use some well-draining soil to plant your Dahlias in. If the soil used in potting traps water for too long, it can create puddles in the soil, harming the growth of the tubers. To prevent this from happening, you can also layer the bottom of the planter with some pebbles or gravel to make sure that the soil drains out the excess moisture.
Once your planted tuber starts sprouting leaves, you must support the growth of the plant. To do this, place a tall wooden stake, or something similar, and sink it to near the tuber, all the way down to the bottom of the planter. Secure this stake in place, and it will give the stem the required support to grow.
Dahlia Fertilizer / 5-10-10 Fertilizer for Dahlias
Use powdery fertilizer on the soil
Fertilizing is an important step while growing Dahlias. If you are planning to grow Dahlias in the garden soil, it becomes important to fertilize the hole in which you want to place your Dahlia tubers. Manure can also do the trick, but using a fertilizer makes it a little easier of a task.
The fertilization needs of the plant, however, varies from variety to variety. Certain varieties can thrive well even in the absence of fertilization, but certain other varieties are known to be heavy feeders. In such a case, it becomes important that you do all the necessary research on the type of Dahlia that you decide to grow.
You can, however, use an all-purpose fertilizer on the Dahlia plant. A liquid and low nitrogen 5-10-10 fertilizer for Dahlias is the best choice for fertilization once the plant starts blooming. Fertilize the plant about once or twice a month during the growing seasons of spring and summer, but never during the winters.
Dahlia Flower Seed
Take a long time to grow
The Dahlia flowers produce Dahlia seeds that are attached to the inside of the blooms. You can use these Dahlia flower seeds to grow more Dahlia plants. However, this process requires a lot of patience as plants grown from Dahlia seeds take a lot of time to grow.
Dahlia Leaves / Dahlia Plant Leaves
Segmented green Dahlia leaves
The Dahlia plant has simple deep green leaves that are segmented around the edges. However, there are also some Dahlias with black leaves, known as Black Dahlias.
What are the Dahlia Roots like?
Tubers grow and multiply
The Dahlia roots are referred to as tubers. These tubers can be grown in soil to obtain a full-fledged Dahlia plant. These tubers also grow as the plant continues to do so. The tubers store moisture and thus serve as a storage unit for the plant.
The tubers can be used even after the Dahlia plant dies out. As long as the tuber retains moisture, it is capable of growing into another Dahlia plant.
Ideal Dahlia Zone
Best for zones 7, 8, 9, 10
The Dahlia plant grows best when planted in a region with bright sunlight and low winds. Too harsh of weather, whether warm or cold, can prove to be harmful to the healthy growth of a Dahlia plant.
Hardiness zones of 7, 8, 9 and 10 are the best to grow Dahlias. If you live in zones 3, 4, 5, and 6, you can still grow Dahlias as annuals. One drawback of growing annuals is that they bloom just once. But you have flowers, nonetheless. People living in zones 10, 11, and 12 can cultivate winter hardy Dahlias at home. Dahlia Pinnata is a good option if you are looking to grow winter hardy Dahlias.
Pruning the Dahlia Plant
Pruning encourages growth
Just like Chrysanthemums, Dahlias can be pruned by the method of pinching. Pinching is just like pruning but doesn’t require scissors, or any other garden equipment. Just a few careful fingers are enough for a successful pinching of the Dahlia plant.
Punching must be done only after the plant matures. As the mature Dahlia plant reaches 12 inches in height, use your fingers to gently pinch off a portion of the main stem of the plant. This pinching process helps to encourage the growth of the plant, while also encouraging an increase in the blooms.
Also, remember to deadhead a flower once it starts fading. This helps to encourage more blooms in the future.
Dahlia Flower Season in India
From October to March
In India, the Dahlia flower season begins around October or November. This flowering season can last well up to March.
To arrange the Dahlia flowers, make sure that you pick them during the cool morning hours. Once you bring them in, plunge the cut stems of the flower in around 2 or 3 inches of hot water, not boiling. The hot water helps to seal the ends, making the flowers last a little longer. Let the flowers stay in that water until it cools down and then shift them to a vase or any other desired place.
Here we have answered some FAQS to answer some of your queries.
Can I leave dahlias in the ground over winter?
Dahlias should not be planted or even left in the ground over the winter. You can, however, do so, if you have a winter hardy variety of Dahlias.
Do dahlias like sun or shade?
Dahlias like the bright sunlight. They should be placed at a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight throughout the day.
Do dahlias come back year after year?
Dahlias are a perennial plant and can bloom year after year. But once it blooms, make sure you deadhead the flowers as they start to fade away. This helps to encourage more blooms.
What month do you plant dahlias?
Dahlias are best planted during the spring season. You can easily plant them in April or May.
Is Dahlia a summer or a winter plant?
Dahlias prefer sunlight and are essential summer plants. They do not prefer extreme weather conditions, be it too hot or too cold. In the winters too, Dahlias can be grown, but only the winter-hardy ones.
What is the difference between Dahlia and Peony?
The one major difference between Dahlia and Peony is their blooming time. Dahlias bloom during the fall while Peonies bloom during the spring season.
Why do dahlias have hollow stems?
The dahlias have hollow stems. These hollow stems work like a straw, supplying water from the roots to the other parts of the plant, like the blooms and the foliage.
Can you Chelsea chop dahlias?
Dahlias have hollow stems and are better pinched off rather than being Chelsea chopped. Both pinching and Chelsea Chop has the same objective, and that is to encourage more blooms
Is dahlia a herb or a shrub plant?
Dahlia is a herb. It is a perennial herbaceous plant with tiny stems.
Where do dahlias grow the best?
Dahlias grow best when placed in a sunny spot. They require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, each day, to thrive.