Growing Dahlia flowers
Dahlias are regarded as one of the most favourite garden plants because of their unrivalled splendour and gorgeously coloured blooms. Their promise of a long flowering season is a matter of delight for any garden lover. Growing dahlias will definitely bring pride and joy to its grower in flower shows and competitions. Dahlias have gained much affection because of their successful cultivation right from the cool climate of the hills to warm climate of the plains. They contain a spectacular variety of flower colour and form, with blooms ranging in size from an inch to the largest dinner plate. Similarly plants range in height from 30-50 cm (dwarf bedding types) up to 180cm (giant cultivars). The lush green foliage makes an attractive background for the flowers in blossom.
Dahlias are tuberous rooted, semi hardy perennials belonging to the compositae family. The flower consists of outer ray florets arranged round a central disc floret (usually yellow in colour). The flowers can be solid, bicolor or multi colored with white, yellow, orange, red and purple shades. Flower size varies from larger than 25 cm (8.25 in.) to less than 10 cm (4in.) in diameter. Stems are hollow, solitary to many and normally unbranched. Leaves are opposite and whorled to pinnate. There are about 30 species and 20,000 listed cultivars of dahlias today. The name dahlia is given in the honour of Andreas Dahl, a Swedish botanist. The modern garden dahlia is a complete hybrid and is a result of continuous breeding between various species; chiefly Dahlia coccinea and D. pinnata.
Origin of Dahlia flowers
The dahlia originated in the hills of Mexico and Columbia in the 16th century. Earlier it was called cocoxochitl (meaning water pipes) due to its long stems. The first tubers arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century where they were hybridized to develop new colours and varieties. Dahlias were introduced in India in the year 1857.
Use of Dahlia flowers
Dahlias are versatile flowers. Their diversity in form and colour make them ideal for pot plants, garden display and exhibitions. Their longer stems, long vase life and attractive flower form make them superb cut flowers for competitions. Waterlily, pompon and orchid types are well suited for cut flowers. Dwarf forms require no support and are perfect for mass bedding.