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Dahlias and Cinco de Mayo

The national flower of Mexico is the Dahlia (Dahlia pinnata). The dahlia has been an important symbol in Mexican culture since ancient times and is often featured in Mexican art and festivals. It was officially declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963, reflecting its cultural and historical significance in the country.

The dahlia is native to Mexico and Central America, and there are over 40 species and thousands of cultivars of dahlias that have been developed around the world. In Mexico, the dahlia is especially beloved for its vibrant colours and wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is often used in floral arrangements and decorations for celebrations such as dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead)and other festivals.

While dahlias are not technically a perennial in Ontario, they can be treated as such if you take the necessary steps to protect the tubers from winter cold. In Ontario, dahlias are considered a tender bulb. This means that they are not able to survive the cold winter temperatures and must be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months.

To treat dahlias as a perennial in Ontario, you will need to dig up the tubers in the fall before the first frost. Clean off any soil and allow them to dry for a few days. Once they are dry, you can store the tubers in a cool, dry place for the winter.

In the spring, once the risk of frost has passed, you can plant the dahlias outdoors again. With proper care and maintenance, the tubers should produce new growth and flowers.

So while dahlias are not technically a perennial in Ontario, you can treat them as such with a little extra effort to protect the tubers from the winter cold.

Dahlias are a popular summer-blooming flower in Ontario and are grown in many gardens and flower beds across the province. To grow dahlias in Ontario, you'll want to follow some general guidelines for planting and care:

  1. Planting: Dahlias prefer well-draining soil and full sun. They should be planted after the risk of frost has passed, typically in late May or early June. You can start dahlias from tubers or from seedlings.

  2. Watering: Dahlias need regular watering to thrive, especially during hot, dry weather. Water deeply and regularly, making sure the soil stays evenly moist but not waterlogged.

  3. Fertilizing: Dahlias benefit from regular fertilization with a balanced fertilizer, applied every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

  4. Staking: Dahlias can grow quite tall and may need staking to prevent them from bending or breaking in the wind. You can use stakes or a trellis to support the plants as they grow.

  5. Pruning: To encourage bushier growth and more flowers, pinch back the tips of young dahlia plants when they reach a height of about 12 inches. You can also remove spent blooms to encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

By following these guidelines, you should be able to successfully grow dahlias in your Ontario garden. Good luck!

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