Dahlia History and Care–Sidebox–by Kellyn Yoder

Dahlias originate from tubers, which are similar to potatoes.  The tuber grows underground and sprouts offshoots that can multiply the number of plants that appear above ground.
The flowers can appear in reds, oranges and yellows as well as pinks and whites.  The plants are then classified by the size of the blooms, which can range from less than 2 inches to over 10 inches.  There are then 11 different flower shapes.
It is best to plant dahlias between April and May.  They need direct sunlight and consistently damp soil.  The flower blooms become more beautiful if the dead blooms are pruned away from the plant.
If you want to store the tubers for later use, you should wait until after the first frost to dig them up.  Then cut the stem of the plant so that it is about six inches long.  Next set them in a cool place to dry.  After the tubers have dried for several days place them in sand to prevent an infestation of insects from damaging the tubers.
Dahlias are native to the areas of Mexico and Central America.  Some say the ancient Aztec civilization used dahlias for food and medicines.
In 1570, King Philip of Spain sent Francisco Hernandez to explore the territory of Mexico.  Hernandez then made drawings of the flower, which were published in 1651.
Around 100 years later, explorers brought three varieties of the flower back to Spain where they were later named after the Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.  Since then 50,000 new varieties have been developed from the original three types.

Written by Sara Alvarez

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