Our SEI Climate Corps Fellow, Bella Dastvan (UMBC '22), work on Dahlias was published in the the most recent edition of The Journal of Horticulture & Landscaping. Bella was the lead author for the article entitled, “Growing Dahlias, Dahlia coccinea Cav., for Commercial Cut Flower Production in Aquaponics and AutoPots”.
Commercial floriculture is years behind food agriculture in the adoption of organic and sustainable practices and enacts a heavy toll on the environment, resulting in excessive water usage, soil erosion, heavy pesticide use, and a massive carbon footprint. In this study, Dahlias (D. Coccinea) were grown in AutoPots fed by an established aquaponics system to explore the sustainability and environmental impacts of aquaponics on commercial floriculture. Dahlias were grown starting from both tubers and cuttings, for a six month period, in a greenhouse setting, assessing the bloom time, bloom quality, stem count, pesticide usage, water usage, and tuber formation. Dahlias bloomed in a typical time frame, compared to field grown plants, the quality of the blooms was equivalent to field grown, the stem counts were significantly lower than field grown, pesticide usage was slightly decreased, water usage was dramatically lower than field grown, and tuber formation was not impacted. To date, this is the first published evidence that Dahlias can be grown in aquaponics, that typical environmental benefits were observed when growing Dahlias via this method, and tuber formation was not hindered by the high moisture conditions produced by a coupled aquaculture system.
The full paper is available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366484660_Growing_Dahlias_Dahlia_coccinea_Cav_for_Commercial_Cut_Flower_Production_in_Aquaponics_and_AutoPots