The first Dahlia flower in winter of the year was seen by me only today in my school garden. It looked so solitary, innocent and so beautiful that I could not resist the temptation of taking its photograph.
Dahlia has a large number of varieties with all its hybrids in various hues and colours. It is a genus of bushy herbaceous and perennial plants. Other species that relate to dahlia are sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and Zinnia.
Dahlia has not less than 42 species with species of hybrids. It belongs to family Asteraceae. These plants are commonly grown in gardens during winter season in India. The stem of dahlia ranges in height from a minor 30cm to 2.4m. These plants do not produce scented flowers. They attract insects for pollination by display of their bright colours.
Dahlia is the National Flower of Mexico
Dahlia was declared as National Flower of Mexico in the year 1963. The plant has tubers that are often used for vegetative propagation of these plants. Dahlia is found in most parts of the world. It especially grows on uplands and mountains.
Dahlias are classified according to flower – shape and petal – arrangement. The plants are borne from tubers, which require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight.
Caring for Dahlias
Caring for dahlia plants starts at installation with cultivation of the soil and healthy tubers.
Learning how to grow a dahlia plant will likely lead to a hobby, as the spectacular blooms are quite addictive and the presence of one or two will lead to plenty more in subsequent seasons.
Select healthy tubers of a variety that does well in your zone. The outside of the tuber should be firm with no mold or rotten spots. Prepare the garden bed. These plants prefer well-drained, acidic loam but will grow relatively well in any soil as long as it isn’t soggy.
Now, dig down 8 to 12 inches (20.5 to 30.5 cm.) and add compost to increase the porosity and nutrient density since dahlias are big feeders. A good dahlia growing tip is to take this time to incorporate 2 pounds per 100 square feet (1 kg. per 9.5 sq. m.) of a 5-10-15 fertilizer.
Small plants can be spaced 12 inches (30.5 cm.) apart, but the big dahlias need to be planted 3 feet (1 m.) apart to accommodate the large bushes.
Pests and Diseases
Some of the serious pests of dahlia are earwigs that deform blooms, aphids that damage young stems, and red spider mite that disturbs foliage and cause discolouration of petals.
Some of the fungal diseases of dahlia are powdery mildew, grey mould, wilt, smut etc.
During winter tubers are lifted from the ground and stored in a cool and frost free condition. Hybrid dahlias are grown in well watered and free drainage conditions. They demand sufficient sunlight.
Types of Dahlia flowers
Single-flowered dahlias, Anemones(Anem), Collerette dahlias(cd), Water lily dahlias(WL), Decorative dahlias(D),Ball dahlias(B), Pompon dahlias(Pom), Cactus dahlias(C), Semi-cactus dahlias(S-C), Miscellaneous dahlias(MIS C), Fimbricated dahlias(FIM), Single Orchid or Star dahlias(Sin O), Double Orchid dahlias(Dblo), Peony flowered dahlias(P) are some common types of Dahlias we grow in our gardens.
Key Words: dahlia, beautiful flower of winters, sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, Zinnia