Common name: Dahlia
There’s no doubt that these bright, beautiful, globulous Dahlia flowers will be the pride of your garden during winter. Though not very common in Indian gardens, they are the piece-de-resistance of gardens where dahlias bloom.
Did you know that there are over 40 species and 57,000 registered cultivars of Dahlias, differentiated primarily based on the shapes and sizes of flowers? They vary from single-flowered dahlias to anemone-flowered, collerette dahlias, waterlily dahlias, decorative dahlias, ball dahlias, pompon dahlias, cactus and semi-cactus dahlias, fimbriated dahlias, single and double-orchid dahlias, peony-flowered dahlias and even miscellaneous dahlias that don’t fall into any of the above groups. The most common ones are ‘decorative dahlias’ and ‘ball dahlias’.
Dahlia plants are quite weak due to their herbaceous hollow stems, and require support once they start producing the heavy blooms. Flowers are usually produced as a single flower per stem, and can vary in size from 5 cm to 25 cm depending on the species. Though the flowers do not have any fragrance, they attract pollinating insects because of their size and color. Colors vary from white, ivory, pink, yellow, orange, red, magenta and a combination of hues in between.
Though dahlias do not grow in frosty climate, the root tubers can lie dormant in the soil for a season and re-emerge as new plants in favorable weather conditions.
Dahlia plants need 6-7 hours of bright sunlight, and do not like shade, over-watering or over-fertilization. Make sure you don’t over-water the tubers immediately after planting, since they might rot. Also provide dahlia plants with good support, so that the stems don’t break in strong winds.
Propagation is from stem cuttings and from tubers.
Photo Courtesy: Shino Thomas. Durga Prasad