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Plant Profile: Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis)

dahlia-imperialisThis super large herbaceous perennial is native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia where it grows in the upper elevations of the mountains. It has a tuberous root system which is dormant in winter but quickly produces a plant that that can be twenty to thirty feet tall by the following fall when it blooms. The bamboo-like stems are hollow, brittle, have swollen nodes and can be three to four inches across. The leaves are up to twenty four inches long and tripinnate. The nodding flowers are six inches across, may be white, lavender or pink and are carried panicles up to three feet across. They appear late in the fall and buds will probably be nipped by frost in most areas of the country. Many gardeners consider growing the plant for the lush tropical looking foliage. Because of its large size and brittle stems grow in a place protected from wind.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: White, pink, or lavender blooms, six inches across in panicles up to three feet across in late autumn

Size: 20-30’ H x 13+’ W

Light: Full sun to part sun

Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 9-10

Care: Cut stems to 6 inches in fall, lift, and store in a cool, frost free place

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division or stem cuttings in spring.

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