Dahlias: The best care tips

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The plant genus Dahlia from the family of daisy family (Asteraceae), which consists of about 35 species, originally comes from Central America and has left impressive traces in horticulture in the last 200 years. In fact, today's diversity of well over 10,000 varieties is based on only a handful of underlying species. The most important starting points of today's garden forms are Dahlia coccinea and Dahlia pinnata - they were crossed with each other and the resulting hybrids formed the basis for all further breeding activities.

Giant dahlia Uchuu

The jewelry Dahlia 'Uchuu' makes child-sized flowers

The stature height of the dahlias varies depending on the variety between 30 and 180 centimeters and the flowers appear in sizes from a few centimeters to over 30 centimeters in diameter. Apart from black and dark blue, there are dahlia varieties in all conceivable colors, many varieties are even two or more colors. For better orientation, the varieties were divided into 10, today even up to 13 different dahlia classes or groups based on their flower shape. If you want to attract insects, you should resort to unfilled dahlias. Only these hold pollen and nectar ready for the flower visitors. Also, it has not been able to breed a fragrant variety.

Soil claims and planting

Dahlias like the full sun and a good water supply - so do not plant the tubers under trees. You need a permeable, slightly acidic and nutrient-rich soil, in case of waterlogging the tubers rot fast. Therefore, the soil should be loosened prior to planting by deep digging and if necessary with some potting soil, foliage compost or manure and a bit of building sand can be improved.


A bed of orchid flowers and simple dahlias has the natural flair of a wildflower meadow

End of April to beginning of May, the dahlia tubers can be planted in the bed. For multiple tubers, it is best to separate a few smaller ones, because this promotes a more vigorous growth. The tubers are placed with the shoot buds up only three to five inches deep in the ground. Keep at least 60 centimeters away from neighboring plants. In the immediate vicinity on the west side of the planting hole (main wind direction) insert a rod into the soil at higher grades, which initially serves as a marking and later as a support. It is only poured on dry soil. Tip: Add one teaspoon of horn shavings to the bottom of each planting hole. This covers the basic requirement for nutrients for the whole year.
Beware of the color combination! The large selection of colors and flower shapes seduces easily to (too) colorful mixture. Combinations of pastel shades or single colors in harmony with restrained accompanying plants such as spider flower (Cleome), verbena (Verbena bonariensis), zinnias, ornamental grasses, sun hat, fat hen and Aster.

Remove blooms early

Cut withered flowers or cut flowers for the vase and stems over a well-developed pair of leaves. From the opposite flower buds in the leaf axils then develop new shoots. If you want larger and more vigorous flowers, you can cut off individual shoot ends before blooming, then the side shoots grow accordingly stronger. Heavily laden shoots with large flowers should be fixed in time with plant rods or perennials so that they do not bend.

Protect dahlias from snails

Dahlias are extremely susceptible to snail-eating. Early application of slug grain decimates the voracious molluscs. Plastic snail collars keep the slugs away from the young shoots until the plants are strong enough. Aphids and the red spider mite also like to settle on dahlias. To avoid fungal diseases, you should not put the plants too tight and do not pour over the leaves. To protect against vole, the tubers are best planted in wire baskets.

Maintain dahlias in the pot properly

In large planters with 10 to 12, better 15 to 20 liters capacity make dahlias on the balcony or terrace joy. For this, the tuber is best pulled on the windowsill or in the greenhouse and put them after the icy saints along with other summer flowers in the large pot. The Dahlia should always be placed in the center of the pot, as it grows upright and also has the most space available here. In the pot, the dahlia needs a little more water than in the bed and especially regular fertilizer, since the nutrient supplies of potting soil are usually consumed quickly. From June, fertilize the plants weekly with a liquid flowering plant fertilizer, which is administered with the irrigation water.

Dahlias in the pot

Dahlias can also be cultivated well in the pot on the balcony and terrace

Cut flowers for the flower vase

Dahlias for the bouquet should be cut in the early morning with a sharp knife and put into the water as quickly as possible - just take a little bucket filled with water into the garden. For the full splendor choose flowers that have just risen and do not cut the stem too short. So that the main flower has enough power to radiate long in the vase, all the sub buds and the lower leaves are removed. The water should be exchanged daily and the stems should always be cut slightly.

Dahlias bouquet

Dahlias, like lilies and gladioli, are good cut flowers. It is therefore worthwhile to plant a bed of dahlias for the cut. (Dahlias, agapanthus, gladioli, gloriosa, lilies)

Overwinter dahlias in the cellar

If you want to enjoy your dahlias for several years, you have to dig up the non-hardy tubers in autumn and overwinter them. The plants are able to keep light minus temperatures, but the tubers should be brought to safety before the first real frost. Ideal is a possible cool and frost-free cellar with consistently high humidity.

Propagation by daughter tubers and cuttings

Simple Dahlia Taxi Driver

Unfilled dark-leaved Dahlia "Taxi Driver"

Dahlias can be easily and inexpensively propagated from March to April by dividing older tubers (the record is 127 tubers on one plant!). Also an increase from cuttings during the winter is possible. From a tuber you can attract around 20 new dahlias. For this, the tuber is driven on the windowsill in a pot with potting soil at the end of January. The stem neck should not be covered with soil. When the new shoots are three centimeters long, break them off at the tuber and put them in potting soil. After about two to three weeks with heat and lots of light, the cuttings form roots and can be transformed into larger pots after three to four weeks. If the plants are exposed to the bed in May, you can simply dig up the newly formed tubers in the autumn and overwinter as usual.

Video Board: Shirley Bovshow's Tips for Growing Dahlias.

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