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Small farmer in a big city

Dahlias

Dahlias

I have a confession; I love flowers.  Don’t let my love of flowers fool you; I am still a G. Now I know there is nothing wrong with loving flowers, but for some reason, people think flowers are feminine. Well, not anymore I am going to do a series highlighting some of my favorite flowers.  I will give planting information, during season and end of season care, pest control and lightly touch on varieties. 

Today we are talking about one of my top 5 favorite flowers of all time, better yet my second favorite flower Dahlias. A few reasons why Dahlias are my second favorite flower: They are extremely easy to grow and take minimal work and time, there are an endless amount of varieties to keep you entertained, they attract pollinators and beneficial to the garden, and they flower from the summer to the fall.

Despite the common misconception that the roots are bulbs they are not, they are tubers.  These tubers look like a cross between fingerling potatoes and tamarind.  In my opinion, the tubers are the easiest ways to plant dahlias, but they are not the only way.  Grow Dahlias from seed, propagate from cuttings or you can buy transplants from local, reputable nurseries. 

PLANTING & FERTILIZATION

Dahlias have the same requirements as a thriving vegetable garden; 6+ hours of sun a day, well-drained soil full of rich organic matter, and water.  Provide these three things, and they will be happy and reward you with blooms from mid-summer to the frost. 

When planting the seeds, start them indoors in a tray in late winter or early spring.  After a few weeks, they will germinate and once the true leaves appear they are ready to be transplanted into individual pots.  Grow them out in a container until late spring and then transplant them to the garden.

When planting the tubers make sure to amend the soil with organic matter before planting.  To determine the necessary planting depth consult the packaging but in general plant Dahlia tubers 4”-6” deep.  Cover the tubers with soil, water and when the plant emerges, add organic mulch.

When growing the larger varieties of Dahlias staking is essential.  A simple trick when planting the tuber, stick a stake in the hole at the time of planting.  This way it is already done before the flower begins to form or the plant gets too heavy and falls over  

Once the sprout emerges the Dahlias growth with explode.  When the flower reaches 12” tall top it.  When I say top I mean cut the terminal branch.  Topping a plant encourages it to grow broader and bushier as opposed to taller and leaner.  This business will give you more flowering sites.

 

COMMON PESTS AND PROBLEMS

The most common pests to Dahlias include but are not limited to:

·       Slugs

·       Aphids

·       Spider Mites

·       Thrips

·       Earwigs

The most common diseases include

·       Tuber Rot

·       Powdery Mildew

·       Mosaic Virus

Since these are a favorite of pollinators, I highly discourage the use of insecticides.  If you have a problem with thrips or pests, I recommend introducing ladybugs to the area and allow them to act as an insecticide.  If you notice an issue such as powdery mildew,  remove the leaves where the mildew is present and thin the foliage to help increase air circulation.  There is a remedy for every negative situation that does not result in the use of harmful chemicals.

 

VARIETIES

There are thousands of varieties of Dahlias, divided into 12 different classifications based on the shape of their flower.  These are a few of the hybrids varieties.  Did you know it was the Dutch growers that are responsible for all of these dahlia hybrids?

·       Single flower

·       Ball

·       Pom Pom

·       Cactus

·       Peony

·       Water Lilly

End of Season Care

Dahlias are tropical plants that originated in Mexico.  Since Mexico is in a tropical region, it does not experience freezes.  Therefore as soon as the temperature drops so will your dahlias, but there is no need to be alarmed.  Saving your tubers for the next season is simple :

1.       Pull up the tubers

2.       Cut the growth a few inches above the top of the tuber

3.       Wash off excess Dirt

4.       Dry in the sun

5.       Divide tubers leaving three eyes per

6.       Place in a paper bag with peat moss, coco coir, or sawdust

7.       Store in refrigerator, basement, or wherever the temperatures are cold but not freezing

You will be surprised how the size of the tubers has increased during the season. 

Thanks for reading.  Now go out and plant some dahlias!  The pollinators will thank you .

 

 

 

 

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