We’ve just started planting dahlias to sell at cart. Apparently they are one of the most popular cut flowers here at the farm. Originally, dahlias comes from central Mexico. Interestingly enough, the tuber of dahlias is edible, and it a little bit like jicama. When the Spanish found the dahlias in Mexico, they brought them back to Europe, and consequently dahlias have undergone much breeding and selection, but mostly for their showy flowers, rather than their edibility. Dahlias are in the aster family, like many of their edible relatives (lettuce, artichoke, cardoon, and other chicories).
Dahlias are moderate water consumers, and are grown during the warm season. However, they will bloom hard and fast in climates that are too warm. The tubers that we planted this week should be blooming august through october. After the season, the tubers will be dug up for winter storage. If not, they may be killed by frost or gophers, and absolutely do not take well to soggy wet soils. Ideally they would be stored at 40-50 degrees, with high humidity. They may even be packed over the winter with dry wood chips.
If individual dahlias are planted together, they will fuse together in the growing process to make a cluster. When planting clusters, large clusters will make more flowers, where are smaller clusters will produce more new tubers than flowers. Clusters can be divided in the spring before planting, and separated by hand, or cut with a serrated knife. The most important thing is that that you do not cut off the growing tip.
They should be planted with four inches of soil above the tuber. We’ll be growing some formal decorative dahlias, some semi cactus, water lily form, ball and pom pom types.