Dahlias: The Amazing Winter Flowers

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The first Dahlia flower in this season of the year was seen by me only today in my school garden. It looked so solitary 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 pinnata is the National Flower of Mexico. It 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.

Growing and 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.( see Powdery Mildew)

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).

Mixed Hybrid Dahlia

Peony flowered Dahlia

Single- starshaped Dahlia

Dr. MP Mishra

Dr. M. P. Mishra is a noted environmentalist of India. He is known for his researches in environment conservation, wildlife activism, and for his writings. He has been internationally known for his Bird Housing Project which was devoted to protection and conservation of terrestrial bird species especially in Jharkhand. He has a deep study of the people of Jharkhand, their rituals, arts and crafts and has wandered extensively to study their conditions, their agriculture, their modes of lives, and their skills. Since last many years he has been continuously writing about various environmental and social issues of Jharkhand and has forty six books to his credit. His articles are regularly published in local and national dailies of India. His books on Environmental Awareness, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, General Science, and biology are widely read and many of his books have been adopted in the schools of foreign countries. His books on Environmental Science have been adopted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Orissa, and the Council of Higher Secondary Education Nagaland and Meghalaya. Dr. Mishra is an excellent teacher with innovative ideas and new teaching methodologies. It was due to his commendable services to education that the Department of Human Resources Development, State Government of Jharkhand offered him State Award in the year 2009-010.Dr. Mishra has been awarded with the Presidential Medal and the National Award for the year 2012 for his outstanding Researches in and great contributions to Science and Environment. He has been an active Science Communicator and coordinator of National Council of Science and Technology Communication, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. He is a member of the Environmental Monitoring Committee under the Jharkhand Academic Council, Jharkhand, Ranchi. It was due to his voluntary services in the field of environment that he has been selected as a nominee of the Committee for Ethical Treatment to Animals, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. He has been the Chief Editor of ECOSOC the Environmental Newsletter of International Circulation for more than ten years. He has been the President of the People for Animals for about ten years. As a teacher he is always admired by his students and the academic community across the globe.

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