Dahlias are cherished for their large, attractive flowers, which make them ideal for gardening. Dahlia is basically a genus of about 36 species of tuberous perennial plants that are native to the regions of Central America, Mexico, and Colombia. These flowering plants were once cultivated by the Aztecs for food and for ceremonies, but today, they are more popular for gardening purposes. They can be grown both from the seeds, as well as from the fleshy tubers or bulbs. In this article, we are going to discuss how to grow dahlias from the bulbs.
When to Plant?
Growing dahlias is not a very difficult task, provided they get the right growing conditions. Dahlia bulbs can be planted once the danger of winter frost is over, as they need warm soil to grow properly. So, plant them when the soil temperature is somewhere between 58 to 60°F. Usually, spring is the ideal season for planting the tubers. The ideal soil pH for growing them is about 6.2 to 6.5.
Dahlias need bright sunlight. So, choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight for planting your dahlia bulbs The soil should be well-drained for growing this flowering plant, as its root can rot if allowed to sit in water for a long time.
Once you have chosen the site for planting the bulbs, be sure to work on the soil. First, dig up a few holes of about 12 inches deep, and then add compost and manure to the holes and mix them properly with the soil. The planting holes should be 5 to 6 inches deep. Spacing is very important for growing strong and healthy dahlias. So, plant the bulbs at least 12 inches apart from one another.
Be sure to plant the bulbs in such a way that they lie in a horizontal position with most of the eyes pointing upward. After planting, cover the bulbs with soil and firm the ground with your hands. Now, water them thoroughly. The soil should be kept moist, but not wet, as over-watering can cause the bulbs to rot.
If you are considering to plant the tall varieties of dahlia, then set stakes into the ground. To promote the growth of large blossoms, pinch the new growths, except the leader buds. Fertilization is also be required for promoting the growth of better and larger blossoms. The right time for applying fertilizer is about one month prior to the blooming season.
How to Plant the Bulbs in Pots?
For growing dahlias in pots, you will need fresh and good quality potting soil and some pots. Ideally, the pots should be about 12 inches in height and width for each bulb. Fill the containers with the potting soil, and mix compost and peat moss with it. Now, dig a hole of about 4 to 5 inches deep, and place the bulb in such a way that the side having most of the eyes is facing up. After planting the bulb, cover it with 4 to 5 inches of soil and water lightly. Plant the rest of the bulbs in the same way, and then place the pots in a sunny location. Once sprouting has occurred, water the bulbs to keep the soil moist. Do not cut the plant or remove the foliage immediately after the end of the blooming season. Instead, let them remain there for some time.
In cold regions, these bulbs have to be dug out from the soil and then stored properly, in order to protect them from the winter frost. This can be done after the first fall frost. Before digging out the bulbs, cut back the stems to a few inches above the ground. Then dig the soil around the bulbs and gently lift them. Make sure that you do not cause any injury to the bulbs while doing so. Allow the bulbs to dry in air for a few days, after which they can be stored for the next year in a dry and cool place. Containers filled with peat moss, as well as paper bags can be used for storing dahlia bulbs.