The origins of dahlias
This beautiful plant has its origins in Mexico. Francisco Hernandez was a Mexican who was a great fan of dahlias and started to write about them in 1615. This publicity ensured that dahlias were brought from Mexico to Spain. From there, it was not until two hundred years later, in 1804, that a botanist by the name of Andreas Dahl introduced dahlias to the rest of Europe. This was when the Dahlia became the subject of so much hybridising and breeding: countless new varieties were introduced to the market. There is good reason, thus, that the summer bulb for the year 2017 was named for Mr Dahl.
Varieties of dahlias
Did you know that there are more than 20,000 different varieties of dahlias? Dahlias are available in the widest conceivable range of shapes, sizes and colours. Bright colours, sweet fragrances, long stems, large flowers. If you can imagine it, chances are it exists! Dahlias are clearly endowed with the talent of making any garden even more beautiful that it already is. Take cactus dahlias, for example. The dahlias in this category produce large tapered petals that are rolled up for more than 2/3 of their length. These petals are sometimes straight as an arrow, but some varieties have petals that curve inwards or outwards. They are real beauties in the garden.
Planting dahlias in six steps
Planting dahlias is as easy as can be but it’s important to do so at the right time of year. The perfect time to plant dahlias is in the spring after any risk of freezing weather. You’ll be all done in just six easy steps. The only thing left to do is wait for those gorgeous flowers.
Choose a sunny spot in the garden where the dahlias can sparkle. Some dahlias reach a height of 2 metres while others grow no taller than 30 cm. For this reason, take their wide range of heights into consideration by giving them a spot where they can be appreciated among the rest of the planting.
Spade the soil thoroughly to loosen it. At the same time, remove any weeds and small stones so that the dahlia will feel right at home.
Dig a hole in which the dahlia tuber will have plenty of room. Be sure not to make this hole too deep since dahlias like to feel the heat of the sun. This means planting them so that they are just a few centimetres beneath the surface of the soil.
Place the dahlia tuber into the hole with the remnant of its old stem pointing up.
Cover the dahlia tuber with the excavated soil.
Pour a generous amount of water over the planted dahlia tuber. This will ensure that the roots will start growing soon.
Caring for dahlias
You will see the first dahlia shoots emerging from the soil just a few weeks after planting. Somewhat later, you will be enjoying their colourful flowers. It’s fun to watch how such a profusely flowering plant grows from a dahlia tuber. If dry weather persists for a long time during the summer months, your dahlias would appreciate a good watering. But dahlias are such easy plants that this is the only care they require.
Good to know
Did you know that dahlias were once eaten? The roots of certain species taste like sweet potatoes. Dahlias were used as a medicine for epilepsy, and their hollow stems were used for water pipes.
Perhaps you don’t have a garden. But if you have a balcony or patio, you can still enjoy these lush flowers. This is because dahlias will grow very well in pots and planters.
If you want to enjoy this seemingly endless sea of flowers, keep deadheading the faded flowers. This will ensure that your dahlias continue to produce new flowers.
Did you know that the name Dahlia is also a name given to girls in Greece? The literal meaning of this name is ‘flower’. This couldn’t be just a coincidence!