Dahlias: growing and care at home

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Dahlias: growing and care at home
Dahlias: growing and care at home

Distinctive characteristics of the plant, tips for growing dahlias at home, breeding steps, pest and disease control, possible difficulties, facts to note, varieties. Dahlia (Dahlia) belongs to the genus of representatives of the flora belonging to the Asteraceae family or as it is also called Compositae. This grouping is quite large, as it includes multiple dicotyledonous plants from almost 33,000 species. But the genus dahlia contains, according to various sources, from 35 to 42 species of large or undersized specimens with a long life cycle. Also, such samples of the green world have large heads of flowers, often spherical in shape. In plants growing in the wild in the American territories, the head of the inflorescence contains two types of flowers. Along the edge of the entire inflorescence, there are infertile buds (just like, for example, in a sunflower) with a tongue-like shape, the color of the petals in them is whitish; in the middle of the inflorescence (on the disc), small yellow flowers with tubular outlines are formed. It is thanks to these middle flowers that the dahlia fruits will then ripen.

The plant bears its scientific name in honor of the botanist from Sweden Anders (Andreas) Dahl (1751-1789), therefore, following the transliteration from Latin, the dahlia is sometimes called "dahlia", and in Russia the present name was given because of the botanist Johann Gottlieb, who was popular at that time (Johanna Gottlieba) Georgi (1729-1802), who was called Ivan Ivanovich Georgi in the Russian state. He became famous for his works in the field of chemistry, medicine, ethnography, was a traveler and professor of mineralogy, academician of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Arts.

However, in the gardens of our latitudes, such asters, with inflorescences of this shape, are very rare. We often have all the many Dahlia, with the most varied colors of petals and terry varieties, referred to as garden plants, in which all tubular flowers growing on discs were turned into infertile ones with a reed contour during breeding work. Because of them, the inflorescence has become denser, acquiring an almost spherical shape. Despite the most diversely colored species, dahlias with variegated colors are bred.

In the wild, these representatives of Compositae can be found mainly in the mountainous areas of Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia. One of these varieties that grows in natural conditions in America - Dahlia imperialis can reach a height of 6 meters, the same two-type flowers as described earlier are formed on it: those that are located at the edges are snow-white and barren, the number their large, central ones are of yellow color, producing. The leaf plates of the plant are complex in shape.

In our gardens, and throughout the European part, the most popular variety is the Variable Dahlia (Dahlia variabilis) and its multiple forms. Growing in the wild, the plant is famous for its reed (marginal) flowers of various shades, possessing the middle flowers of a bright yellow color scheme and a tubular shape. This species was the base for breeding by breeders of multiple modern forms, which delight with their flowering at the end of summer or in autumn days.

Dahlia leaf plates usually sit on the stem in pairs. The shape of the leaves is pinnate, and occasionally even twice or thrice pinnate, but in rare cases they have simple outlines. The length of the leaf blade varies from 10 to 40 cm. The surface of the leaves has varying degrees of pubescence. The foliage is painted green or purple.

The stems of this perennial plant are hollow inside and their height parameters can reach 2.5 meters. They are straight, characterized by branching, their surface can be smooth or rough. Dahlia's roots are thickened, tuberous, fleshy, with the same root processes. Every year, with the arrival of cold weather, the entire part located above the soil surface dies off up to the root collar.

The inflorescences, as already mentioned, are in the shape of a basket. The wrapper is in the form of a cup, and it consists of 2-3 rows of green leaves spliced at the base. Flowers ligate along the edge, in the middle part they are small and tubular. The color of the petals in the outermost flowers is the most diverse, and the central ones are cast in a golden yellow or reddish brown tone. When pollinated, the fruit ripens in the form of an achene. At the same time, 1 gram can contain up to 140 seeds, which are used for reproduction up to 3 years.

Recommendations for home growing flowers, planting and care

Dahlias are blooming
Dahlias are blooming
  1. You must select the variety "Dahlia"that will be suitable for pot growing. It is better to use dwarf or undersized varieties. However, if there is a fairly large capacity, then, in principle, any of the dahlia varieties can be grown.
  2. The choice of capacity for planting. For a start, a pot may come up, the depth of which will be about 30, 5 cm, the diameter should be the same. If the variety differs in larger parameters (up to 90 cm or more), then an even larger flowerpot will be required. You should also pick up a container made of heavy material (ceramics or clay) so that it does not overturn under the weight of an overgrown plant.
  3. Preparing the pot for planting. In the bottom, it is necessary to drill holes through which excess moisture will flow out during watering. If you purchased a pot with ready-made holes, you need to inspect them - if they are small or there is only one hole, then in any case you will need to drill a couple of additional holes. The pot will need to be washed, as a dirty container can become a source of subsequent disease or the presence of pest eggs. It is recommended to wash it with soapy water, and then rinse it thoroughly under running water. After that, you can scald the container with boiling water and wipe it dry.
  4. Selection of soil mixture for planting dahlias. The substrate should be soil and coarse. If an ordinary soil mixture is used for potted crops, then the buds of "dahlia" will develop poorly, since the composition is rather porous. You can create a substrate for a plant from potting and garden soil, or by mixing potting soil and compost. Often, in the absence of such components, chopped bark, peat and various minerals are used.
  5. The location of the dahlia pot. The plant needs up to 6-8 hours of bright sun. A window sill of a south, east or west window will do, but for indoor growing you will need backlights. It is the latter condition that is necessary to stimulate growth. If the tubers are just planted in pots, then the lamp is installed above the container at about 15 cm from the edge. As the stem grows, this lighting rises, maintaining the same distance to the flower.
  6. Watering "Dahlia". When the stem rises in height above the edge of the flowerpot, abundant watering is recommended - 2-3 times a week. But if the room is dry and hot, then humidification is carried out daily. However, bays are prohibited.
  7. Fertilizers for dahlias, they are introduced from early summer to September. This will ensure lush growth and flowering. The frequency of feeding is once every 14 days. Preparations with a low nitrogen content are used. It is better to "underfeed" the plant than to apply too much fertilizer. Often, nutrients are mixed into the substrate during planting. Such fertilizers are obtained on the basis of fish residues or algae and contain additional trace elements. Bone meal is also mixed into the soil. In specialized stores, you can purchase a polymer mixture instead of bone meal and dressings. It is only important not to violate the dosage indicated on the label. In the case when, when adding a mixture with fertilizer or bone meal to the soil, the filters closing the drainage holes can be displaced, then the substrate should be removed from the container, mixed with additional preparations. The filters are placed back into the pot and the soil is sprinkled over the top very gently.
  8. Dahlia planting. It is necessary to plant the tubers before the roots grow too long, since they tend to get tangled and when they try to straighten them during planting, they are easily damaged. While such a plant grows new roots, its growth and flowering process will be delayed too much and this period will be very short during the season.

When growing "dahlia" in pots, with the arrival of summer, it can be moved in a flowerpot outside, it is important that the danger of the return of morning frosts is avoided. Provided that the dahlia is cultivated as a houseplant, then planting is recommended in April. Dahlia boarding rules:

  1. Place 1–2 biodegradable coffee maker filters on top of the holes in the bottom of the new pot. This will help absorb moisture and prevent root rot. The drainage layer of expanded clay or medium-sized pebbles will also "work", but it will take up a little space, which is necessary for the root system. Filters are a kind of "shield" from the penetration of insects into the pot through the holes.
  2. The pot is filled with a substrate by 1/3 of the total volume, it does not need to be compacted. If the container is more than 30.5 cm deep, then the soil layer will have to be increased.
  3. The planting depth of the dahlia roots should be 15 cm, from the edge of the flowerpot to the surface of the substrate it is kept up to 2.5 cm. Also, about 0.6 mm should remain between the tip of the root and the wall of the pot.
  4. If during planting it is found that a "eye" has formed at the root, then it is positioned so that it is in the central part of the pot and "looks" up. The stem germination will start from this point.
  5. The soil is moistened, but it should not be wet and the planted tuber is covered with it. At first, they do not bury it, but only sprinkle it a little with a substrate. This is done so that it is possible to keep an eye on his growth.
  6. It is not recommended to sprinkle the eyes with soil, they are left on the surface and only slightly spray the visible part of the dahlia tuber with slightly warmed water to moisten.
  7. As the stem grows, you will need to add soil to the pot. This is done carefully so as not to damage the fragile stem. The upper leaf plates are never covered with substrate. Such sprinkling of earth is stopped when there is no 2.5 cm left between its surface and the edge of the flowerpot.
  8. It is recommended to install a support in the container and then tie the grown stem to it so that it does not break off. Its height is selected about 120 cm and it is better that it is made of metal. They try to rest its base against the bottom, and then carefully sprinkle the support with a substrate or / and use a wire previously threaded into the holes. They are drilled into the sides of the flowerpot.

If a dahlia flower is cut for a bouquet, then it is recommended to dip the ends of its stems into a vessel with boiling water, this will serve to retain moisture inside in the subsequent time and will extend the "life" of the inflorescences.

Dahlia breeding methods at home

Dahlia bulbs
Dahlia bulbs

To get a new Dahlia flower, you can do:

  1. Dividing an overgrown tuber, which is then planted in prepared pots with a substrate, but covered in such a way that the root collar remains above the soil surface.
  2. By cuttings - parts of the stems are planted in pots with a moistened peat-sandy substrate and greenhouse conditions are created by covering the blanks with a transparent film. With constant ventilation and periodic moistening of the soil, such cuttings take root.
  3. When using seeds, you can enjoy the flowering of only annual specimens.

Diseases, pests and other difficulties in caring for dahlias

Dahlia in a flowerpot
Dahlia in a flowerpot

If you often pour the substrate in a pot with "distance", it will cause rotting of the root system or other fungal diseases, among which the most dangerous is the "black leg". With this disease, the stem becomes black in color, and then the plant dies. To combat, fungicides are used or (in the latter case) the soil is watered with a 1% solution of potassium permanganate.

In the middle of summer, it is recommended to remove the leaves at the bottom of the stem so that they do not provoke powdery mildew disease. Often, white or dry rot is manifested by yellowing of the leaf plate. To combat, the dahlia should be treated with soapy water with repetitions after a week until cured.

With poor ventilation of the room, brown spots appear on the leaves, which are provoked by a fungal disease - leaf spot. To fight, you will have to remove all affected parts of the plant and carry out a transplant.

Among the pests of the plant, one can distinguish spider mites, aphids, thrips, and when growing "dahlia" in a pot in the open air, leaf beetles, bugs, earwigs and slugs become a problem for her. If a plant that is in the room is seen:

  • foliage punctures along the edge, thin cobweb, then there was a spider mite lesion;
  • aphids look in the form of small bugs of green color, which crawl in large quantities along the leaves and stem, leaving behind a sugary and sticky bloom (pad);
  • during the "attack" of thrips, it was noticed that yellow spots are formed on the leaves, which over time begin to occupy more and more space, and a hole appears in this place.

If such symptoms are found, it is recommended to wash the sheet plates with soap, oil or alcohol preparations. The first is prepared on the basis of grated laundry soap or any dishwashing detergent; the second can be a few drops of rosemary essential oil diluted in water; as the latter, an alcoholic pharmacy tincture of calendula is used. Such "soft" means do not always help in the fight against pests, and it is recommended to additionally carry out treatment with insecticides (Aktara, Aktellik or Fitoverm). The next spraying with the agent is carried out in a week.

Facts to note about dahlias, photo

Dahlia photo
Dahlia photo

Since the native habitat of dahlias is the territories of the mountainous regions of Mexico, the Aztecs also used the plant for food - its fleshy tuberous roots. The Indians of Mexico called the plant "chichipatl", "acocotle" or "kokosochitl". In the Spanish interpretation, this in various variations meant "a flower with a hollow stem."

The Latin name for this wonderful flower was given by the Spanish botanist Antonio Cavanilles, who at that time (in 1791) served as director of the botanical garden in Madrid. So the scientist decided to immortalize the name of Anders Dahl, one of the "apostles" of Karl Linnaeus, the classifier of all flora and fauna. The plant has been bearing another, Russian-language name since 1803 thanks to Karl Wildenov, who also has the opportunity to leave for the people the memory of the St. Petersburg academician and botanist, geographer and ethnographer - Johann Georgi. Interestingly, the plant is often referred to in the masculine form as "dahlia".

There are many legends that describe the version of the appearance of the dahlia. In one of them, the plant appeared in the place where the last fire of people once extinguished, after the merciless cover of the ice age retreated.

Description of varieties of dahlias for growing at home

Dahlia pots
Dahlia pots

There are a large number of "dahlia" forms bred to date, differing in a variety of flowers and their forms, among which are:

  • collar;
  • needle-like;
  • spherical;
  • pompom;
  • nymphaean;
  • anemone;
  • peony.

For more on growing dahlias in pots, see the video below: