Dahlias, native plant to Mexico, Central America and Colombia, is a perennial plant commonly grown as a garden plant. Dahlias require considerable amount of attention and proper care. Therefore gardeners have to learn how to properly stake, feed and water them in order to achieve incomparable results. Nowadays, there are several varieties of this amazingly beautiful flowers differing in forms and colors.
Dahlias in general like areas with fertile and well drained soil and abundance of direct sunlight. It is crucial to work on the soil thoroughly before planting them. Also fertilizer should be added to the soil in order to increase the fertility level and ensure better plant growth and blooming.
Steps in Growing Dahlias
Planting the Tubers
Although dahlias can be grown from seeds and seedlings, the main way of growing them consists in planting the tuberous root sections. Dahlias are very frost sensitive, so the tubers should not be planted until the last frost has passed. Late spring is the best time for planting them. The tubers should be planted firmly with the eye upward around 8 inches deep. If the soil is very wet, dig a little deeper and put pebbles in the bottom of the hole and add loose soil on the top of them. This should ensure proper drainage. Before the tuber is covered with soil, place a 6 foot stake to the side of the tuber.
When the plant has several leaves, pinch off the top to get a more bushy plant. When dahlia is about 2 feet tall, tie it loosely to the stake. Dahlia does not like competition so keep the planting area free of weeds and cultivate it on a weekly basis until the plant starts blooming. Watering should be carried out only when the soil has completely dried out.
The process of dis-budding is necessary in order to obtain big and large blooms. As soon as the clusters of three buds appear, break off the two side buds and leave only the center one. Also when this center bud develops a stem, other buds will start to appear on this stem at the base of the leaves and will produce defective flowers. Therefore it is crucial to pinch back all of them except for those at the end of the leaves to encourage large blooming flowers.
Feeding should be carried out every six weeks from the moment when the plant is about 12 inches tall. Fertilizer cannot be applied near by the plant stalk so always make sure to apply it around the plant on the soil surface and carefully scratch in with a rake. When the buds appear, the plants should be fed every 3 weeks. Also proper watering schedule is very important. Once dahlias start to develop they should be watered every few days. Throughout the hot summer months more frequent watering will be a necessity.
Once all the instructions and techniques are mastered, dahlias will reward the gardeners with flowers of stunning size and perfection. In addition, dahlias are very versatile and splendid plants that will add beauty and interest to any home garden or landscape.