Dahlia pinnata, Dahlia (Any Color) – Plant
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Dahlias are tuberous perennial, and most have simple leaves that are segmented and toothed or cut.
The compound flowers may be white, yellow, red, or purple in colour.
These plants are typically 2 to 3 feet tall and may have regular or dark-colored foliage.
HOW TO GROW DAHLIAS
- There’s no need to water the soil until the dahlia plants appear; in fact, overwatering can cause tubers to rot. After dahlias are established, provide a deep watering 2 to 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes with a sprinkler (and more in dry, hot climates).
- Like many large-flower hybrid plants, the big dahlias may need extra attention before or after rain, when open blooms tend to fill up with water or take a beating from the wind.
- Dahlias benefit from a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer (similar to what you would use for vegetables) such as a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20. Fertilize after sprouting and then every 3 to 4 weeks from mid-summer until early Autumn. Do NOT overfertilize, especially with nitrogen, or you risk small/no blooms, weak tubers, or rot.
Pinching, Disbudding, and Staking
- When plants are about 1 foot tall, pinch out 3-4 inches of the growing center branch to encourage bushier plants and to increase stem count and stem length.
- If you want to grow large flowers try disbudding—removing the 2 smaller buds next to the central one in the flower cluster. This allows the plant to put all of its energy into fewer but considerably larger flowers.
- Bedding dahlias need no staking or disbudding; simply pinch out the growing point to encourage bushiness, and deadhead as the flowers fade. Pinch the center shoot just above the third set of leaves.
- For the taller dahlias, insert stakes at planting time. Moderately pinch, disbranch, and disbud, and deadhead to produce a showy display for 3 months or more.
- Dahlia foliage blackens with the first frost.
- Dahlias are hardy to Zone 8 and can be cut back and left in the ground to overwinter; cover with a deep, dry mulch. Further north, the tuberous roots should be lifted and stored during the winter. (Some readers find, however, that dahlias will survive in Zone 7 if the winter isn’t too severe.)
- See Harvest/Storage (below) for more information.
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