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Plants Online - Dahlia

Plants for sale - Dahlia

42

DAHLIA

Family COMPOSITAE
Dahlia pinnata and Dahlia juarezii
Perennial

A race of tuberous-rooted perennials found in Mexico and Guatemala.

Dahlia pinnata, also known as Dahlia variabilis and Dahlia rosea, had been used in the evolution of the modern varieties. The cactus varieties are derived from Dahlia juarezii.
From these, and possibly other species, have arisen the present garden forms known as cactus, semi-cactus, pompon, decorative, collarette, etc.
The plants vary in height from a foot to six feet.
The flowers vary in size from two inches in diameter in the case of pompon varieties, to fifteen inches in the case of large decorative varieties. They are mostly double in form, although some have single or semi-double flowers.

Dahlias will grow in any rich soil in full sun and with perfect drainage. As they are only half-hardy, it is necessary to lift the tubers after the first autumnal frost, and dry and store in frost-proof conditions.

Propagation is by division of the tubers or by cuttings taken from tubers started into growth in February in heat, and rooted under glass.

The flowering season is from July to September.

Dahlia
Half Hardy Perennial
3 to 5 feet.
Flowers of many colours, July to October.

The Dahlia in its several varieties is one of the most serviceable flowers of later summer. It may be grown with but little more care than a potato; it has, as yet, no specific disease; and if its flowers somewhat lack delicacy and the poetry of association, they supply abundance of the fine colour to the borders when the inevitable gaps and shabbiness of August begin to appear, and they continue to bloom without any deterioration till the first sharp frosts cuts the plants down.

There are four main divisions of Dahlias:
First, the class called “Show and Fancy” –the old-fashioned double Dahlia, with spherical flowers of close-set quilled petals; the “shows” are flowers of one colour, or edged with a second colour; the “Fancies” are of two or more colours, striped and splashed.
Second, the “Cactus” race; double flowers with narrow petals, pointed or twisted; they are quite modern, compared with the “Shows”, and possess many shades of delicate colour not found in the older breed.
Third, the “Singles”, flat circular flowers with one row of petals surrounding a seed-disc. They were ignored as weeds for several generations, but came into favour with a general change of taste some twenty-five years ago.
Fourth, the Pompons or Bouquet Dahlias. These are merely miniatures of the double “Shows”; the plant more dwarf and the flowers small and most abundant.

The culture of the several sorts is practically the same. The beginner should obtain rooted cuttings in May, and plant them out in well-dug and heavily manured soil.
The after care consists in watering in dry weather and staking and tying. Dahlias are very succulent and brittle, and may be wrecked altogether by a summer storm. A stout stake, four to five feet out of the ground, must be firmly driven in at the time of planting, and the main shoots looped to this with tar-string as they advance.
If the plants grow large, they will probably require one or two additional sticks, and the branches as they spread must be tied out – not bunched together – with bast.

Earwigs are very destructive to the blooms; the best remedy is putting a small inverted flowerpot, with some crumpled paper inside it, on the top of the main stake. The earwigs may be shaken out of the paper every morning and despatched or deported.

The first sharp frost in autumn will turn the plants to blackened wrecks; the stems should then be cut off four or five inches from the ground, and not later than November the roots must be forked carefully up, cleaned of wet mould, and stored in a cellar or other cool place secure from frost.

The following April they must be packed together in a little light mould in frames, and kept safe from frost by means of mats on the lights. The sun’s warmth will be quite sufficient to bring on the growth in ample time for planting out in May or early June.

If the gardener wishes to increase his stock of plants, he should put the roots on a mild hotbed in March, and when the shoots are about three inches long, they should be broken off close to the tubers and planted as cuttings in small pots of sandy soil. These cuttings, if kept moist, and shaded from direct sun, will soon root and form plants ready for putting out in June.

In July or August pieces of firm woody shoots, cut off close below a joint, will root easily in a shady border. The single varieties may be easily raised from seed, by sowing early in March, in a hotbed or greenhouse and growing on with the half-hardy annual routine.

It may be noted here that in cutting single Dahlias the flowers should be taken quite early in the morning, and those chosen whose seed-disk shows very few expanded florets; when the centre is full of these, the petals are on the point of falling.

The named sorts of Dahlias are so numerous and the favourites in the growers’ catalogues are so quickly superannuated and deposed, that it would be useless to give the beginner a list of varieties. If he does not care to study the descriptions in the catalogues, he may safely try the nurserymen’s choice, “our own selection”.

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