Bursts of color in your garden are like sprinkles on top of an ice cream sundae – they elevate your garden from ordinary to extraordinary.
If you want to add a touch of magic to your garden, look no further than dahlias.
These gorgeous flowers come in various colors, shapes, and sizes and are relatively easy to grow.
You’re about to discover why growing and caring for dahlias is important and how to do it best.
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, this article will provide everything you need to know to make your dahlias thrive.
What Are Dahlias?
Dahlias are perennial plants with tuberous roots that belong to the Asteraceae family, which includes sunflowers, daisies, and zinnias.
They are native to Mexico and Central America, where the Aztecs cultivated them for their edible roots and hollow stems.
Dahlias have stunning flowers in various colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be classified into 14 groups based on their flower form and diameter.
Some of the most common types of dahlias are:
- Decorative dahlias: Large, double blooms with flat petals and a central disc.
- Cactus dahlias: Elongated, pointed petals that curl towards the center of the bloom.
- Anemone dahlias: A central disc surrounded by one or more rings of flattened petals.
- Pompon dahlias: Small, round blooms with tightly packed petals.
- Waterlily dahlias: Large, double blooms with ruffled petals that resemble water lilies.
- Orchid dahlias: Double blooms with elongated curved or twisted petals resembling orchid flowers.
- Collarette dahlias: Single or double blooms with a single outer ring of petals and a central disc surrounded by a collar of shorter petals.
With so many varieties, dahlias can be a beautiful addition to any garden or landscape.
Dahlia’s colorful petals and tuberous roots can be eaten raw or cooked.
The petals can add a splash of color and flavor to salads, while the roots can be boiled, roasted, or fried like potatoes.
The taste and texture of dahlias can range from sweet and crunchy to spicy and starchy.
How To Grow Dahlias?
Growing dahlias is not difficult if you follow some basic steps.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Choosing a Location
The first step to growing dahlias is choosing a suitable location.
Dahlias need fertile, moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. They also need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily to thrive.
They prefer a warm, sheltered spot away from strong winds and frost.
If you live in a cold climate, you may need to grow dahlias in a greenhouse or indoors during winter.
You can plant dahlias from tubers, rooted cuttings, or seeds:
- Tubers are the most common method and are available in spring. You can pot them indoors in late March or early April and plant them out in May after the last frost.
- Cuttings can be taken from tubers in early spring and potted indoors until ready to plant.
- Seeds can be sown indoors in late winter or early spring and transplanted outdoors after the last frost.
Dahlias should be spaced according to their mature height and width, ranging from 1 to 6 feet (30 cm to 1.8 m).
Taller varieties may need staking to support their heavy blooms.
Watering and Fertilizing
Dahlias need regular watering, especially during dry spells and when they bloom.
They also benefit from monthly feeding with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.
To encourage more flowers, deadhead faded blooms regularly and pinch out the growing tips of young plants.
Keep the Dahlias healthy and well-spaced to prevent diseases and pests and remove any diseased or damaged foliage.
Use bamboo canes, metal stakes, or wooden posts to stake Dahlias.
Tie the stems loosely with twine or soft cloth. You can also use cages or trellises for extra support.
How To Care for Dahlias?
Dahlias are not very demanding but need attention to keep them healthy and blooming.
Here are some tips to help you care for your dahlias.
Pruning dahlias can help them grow bushier and produce more flowers.
You can prune them by pinching out the growing tips of young plants when they are about 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) tall.
Deadheading dahlias can also encourage more blooms and prevent diseases.
You can deadhead them by regularly cutting off faded flowers with sharp scissors or pruners.
You can also cut dahlias for bouquets and arrangements.
Cut them in the morning or evening when the stems are full of water and place them in a vase with fresh water.
Another important aspect of caring for dahlias is protecting them from winter freezing temperatures.
If you live in a cold climate, dig up the tubers and store them indoors over winter.
Follow these steps:
- Cut back the stems to about 6 inches (15 cm) after the first frost and carefully dig up the tubers with a fork.
- Shake off any excess soil and let them dry for a few days in a cool, airy place.
- Wrap them in newspaper or boxes with dry peat moss or sand.
- Store them in a dark, frost-free place with a temperature of 40°F to 50°F (4°C to 10°C).
- Check them periodically for signs of rotting or shriveling, and discard any bad ones.
- Bring them back into growth in spring by potting them indoors and watering them lightly until they sprout new shoots.
- Then plant them out in the garden after the last frost as before.
Dahlias can grow from 1 to 6 feet (30 cm to 1.8 m) tall, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
Dwarf dahlias are suitable for containers and bedding, while taller dahlias need staking and more space.
Possible Problems With Growing Dahlias
One common issue is powdery mildew, a fungal disease that appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves.
To avoid this, space your dahlias properly to allow for good air circulation.
Other potential problems include the following.
Stem rot is a fungal disease that occurs when dahlias grow in heavy, poorly drained, wet soil.
It causes a white ring in the soil around the stem, which then rots and kills the stem and the tubers.
To prevent stem rot, ensure your soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering your dahlias.
Botrytis blight is another fungal disease that affects dahlias.
It causes buds to rot and covers the plant with a powdery gray mold.
It thrives in humid and wet conditions, especially with poor air circulation.
Dahlias prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
If the soil is too heavy or wet, it can cause root rot and other problems.
To prevent soil issues, amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage.
Life is like a dahlia – take care of it, and it will bloom beautifully.
These beautiful flowers offer a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes that can brighten up any garden or home.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not use your dahlias to make a stunning floral arrangement or decorate a special event?