No flower will give a gardener a more spectacular reward than the dahlia. This flower is a show-stopping variety that brings a stunning rainbow of color to any garden. Native to Mexico, dahlias are tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants that range from miniatures that are a few inches tall, to huge flowers that are the size of dinner plates! These plants come in a multitude of heights, sizes, colors, and number of rows of petals.
Even though they are often times called “bulbs” the roots of this plant are tubers, like potatoes, and sprout from their “eyes” and have shallow roots. There are over 40 species of dahlias. They have leafy stems that range in heights from 12 inches to more than 8 feet and have one bloom per stem. They bloom almost continually and the more you cut, the more they will produce! The new blue varieties display magnificent hues of blues. Adding blue dahlias to a bed filled with reds and yellows will create a brilliant focal point in your garden. Dahlias make long lasting cut flowers and their multi-layered petals can add body and beauty to an arrangement. (Dahlias are often used to express personal sentiments.)
It is best to plant dahlias in an area that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day. If you live in a hot-summer climate, choose a location that provides morning sun and afternoon shade. The key to successfully growing dahlias is good soil preparation, and once the plants are established, it is suggested to add mulch to conserve moisture.
Each plant’s foliage will fade in the fall and wilt with colder nights. In very cold climates, to save your tubers for the next year, dig up the plants after the first frost. Let them dry out, and then place in paper bags or boxes in a cool place. Throughout the winter, sprinkle a little water if the tubers are drying up. If you live in a warmer climate, just trim out stems to keep your plants looking their best; fresh growth will appear in the spring. Once you've grown your first crop of these beauties, you will want to add more!