Growing Dahlias – Guide to Dahlia Flowers
Growing – Guide to Flowers
Dahlia flowers are the biggest, brightest and most flamboyant of all late-summer flowering plants. No other group of plants can rival them for sheer vibrancy of colour. Dahlia flowers are natives of the highlands of Mexico, where they were cultivated by the Aztecs long before Europeans discovered them. Today there are literally thousands of varieties, and these are classified into groups according to the size and shape of the flower.
Height 11-2 feet; plant 18-24 inches apart; flowers up to 4 inches across, daisy-like. ‘Nellie Geerlings’, scarlet; ‘Orangeade’, flame; ‘Princess Marie Jose’, lilac pink.
Height 2-31- feet; plant 2 feet apart; flowers up to 4 inches across. ‘Bridesmaid’, white petals, lemon centre; ‘Lucy’, purple petals, yellow centre.
Height 2-4 feet; plant 2-21 feet apart; flowers up to 4 inches across. ‘Mrs H. Brown’, flame and orange petals, yellow collar; ‘Nonsense’, creamy-white petals, orange collar; ‘Ruwenzori’, scarlet petals, yellow collar.
Height up to 3 feet; plant 2 feet apart; flowers up to 4 inches across. ‘Fascination’, purple; ‘Grenadier’, scarlet; ‘Orange Flora’, orange.
These are the prize of the dahlia flowers, with the largest blooms of all. They are sub-divided into five groups:
(a) EXHIBITION DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 5-7 feet; plant 4 feet apart; flowers 10-15 inches across. ‘Burgess Ray’, yellow ‘Crossfield Festival’, bright red and white; ‘Holland Festival’, fiery orange petals tipped white.
(b) LARGE DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 34-5 feet; plant 4 feet apart; flowers 8-10 inches across. ‘Bunratty’, purple; ‘Enfield Salmon’, pink: ‘Robert Damp’, yellow.
(c) MEDIUM DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 31-4 feet; plant 3 feet apart; flowers 6-8 inches across. ‘Betty Russell’, yellow; ‘Breckland Joy’, bronze; ‘Terpo’, crimson.
(d) SMALL DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 31-4 feet; plant 21 feet apart; flowers 4-6 inches across. ‘Millbank Inferno’, red and orange; ‘Snow Queen’, pure white.
(e) MINIATURE DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 3-4 feet; plant 21 feet apart; flowers up to 4 inches across. ‘David Howard’, orange; ‘Jo’s Choice’, scarlet; ‘Newby’, peach.
Height 3-4 feet; plant 21 feet apart; flowers 9-6 inches across. The flower is ball shaped. ‘Doreen Hayes’, scarlet; ‘Gloire de Lyon’, white.
Height 3-4 feet; plant 21 feet apart; flowers up to 2 inches across. The blooms of these dahlia flowers are very like those of the Ball dahlia but are smaller and even more ball shaped. ‘Little Conn’, dark red; ‘Porn of Poms’, scarlet.
Thesehave fully double flowers with spiky, pointed petals. The group is divided into five subsections according to size:
(a) GIANT DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 4-5 feet; plant 4 feet apart; flowers 10-12 inches across. ‘Danny’, pink; ‘Gladys
M. Reynolds’, bronze; ‘Polar Sight’, creamy white.
(b) LARGE DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 4-5 feet; plant 4 feet apart; flowers 8-10 inches across. ‘Drakenburg’, purple; ‘Royal Highness’, pink; ‘Royal Wedding’, scarlet with yellow centre.
(c) MEDIUM DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 31-4 feet; plant 3 feet apart; flowers 8-10 inches across. ‘Apache’, bright red; ‘Autumn Fire’, tangerine tinged scarlet; ‘Rotterdam’, crimson; ‘Topaz’, yellow.
(d) SMALL DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 31-4 feet; plant 21 feet apart; flowers 4-6 inches across. ‘Doris Day’, crimson; ‘Marilyn’, pink; ‘Rothesay Red’, crimson.
(e) MINIATURE DAHLIA FLOWERS: Height 3-1/4 – 4 feet; plant 2-1/2 feet apart; flowers up to 4 inches across. ‘Charmer’, purple; ‘Happy Mood’, yellow; ‘Little Ann’, pink; ‘Snip’, bronze and orange.
These arewhich need to be grown from seed each year. They reach 12-20 inches in height and should be planted 12-24 inches apart. The flowers, which may be single, semi-double or double come in many colours; 2-3 inches across.
Cultivation – Growing Dahlias
Dahlias are easy to grow, but to get show-quality blooms take a little extra trouble. Plant in any fertile, well-drainedin full sun. The ground should be dug thoroughly before planting, and enriched with stable-manure or rich organic . Plant in May or June. The larger sorts should be planted 4-6 inches deep, the smaller sorts 3-4 inches deep.
Stakes should be put in the ground at planting time: if they are put in later they are liable to damage the tubers. Once in growth,freely. For really big, handsome flowers pinch out all the buds that form in the leaf-axils, allowing only one stem to develop, which means cutting off other shoots at ground level as they appear. At first frost the top-growth of dahlias will turn black and wither. The stems should then be cut off 6 inches above the ground, and the tubers carefully lifted with a fork, the earth shaken from them, and left on the ground to dry. Label the tubers at this stage, either by variety, if known, or by type and colour. Before nightfall they should be transferred to a dry, frost-proof place and allowed to finish drying-off. All traces of earth should then be removed, and any rotten or damaged tubers discarded. Store over winter on slatted shelves or in slatted boxes.
Dahlia flowers can be propagated by root division, by, or by seed.
This operation involves slicing vertically through the old stem so that a number of tubers are detached, each with a portion of the old stem attached to them. New growth can only be made by the buds that occur round the base of the previous season’s growth, so it is essential to make sure that each tuber has a part of the previous season’s old stem attached to it.
The same principles apply here as to dividing the tubers. Each cutting must have a piece of the previous season’s stem attached to act as a ‘heel’. The previous season’s tubers are planted shallowly in an earth-filled box and placed in the greenhouse or the home. They are liberally watered to encourage quick growth. As soon as the shoots are 2-3 inches high they should be detached from the parent plant with a sharp knife, and potted up either singly in 3-inch pots or else in boxes and spaced 3 inches apart. They need to be kept growing well, and this means keeping them warm and moist. After 10 to 15 days they will have rooted: they should not be planted out until early June.
The single flowered sorts, especially the dwarfs, and the annual dahlias are easily raised from seed. Sow seed in March or April in the greenhouse in pans or boxes in John Inns Seed Compost No. 2 and keep at a temperature of between 18° and 21°C. After germination harden off and plant out in July.