There are thousands upon thousands of named varieties of dahlias, and they have existed for hundreds of years. Within this enormous family, plants can range from one foot tall all the way up to eight feet.  Dahlia flowers themselves are anywhere from two inches in diameter up to a foot.  Some have eight petals, some have hundreds.  I can honestly say I have never seen a dahlia that I did not like.  My absolute favorites are the pompon type, perfect petals shaped into a ball.

For years, I have grown, or tried to grow dahlias in my own yard, more or less successfully.  This year my dahlias are a major disappointment.  Space is limited, so I planted 6 tubers in the spring.  Two are growing and blooming beautifully.  Two others are growing, but they are not remotely close to the size they should be.  The last two did not even show themselves above the ground.  Sadly, the two that refused to grow were of the pompon variety.  Though I’m thrilled with the two blooming plants, I want to learn from the poorly performing plants and try something different next year.  Some of the bulbs were shipped to me about a month before the snow melted here, against my specific instructions.  Though I kept them in a nice cool place, I can’t help but suspect the delay may have harmed their health. 

dahlia2Lots of people say that dahlia tubers can be dug up, stored over the winter and replanted.  That is something I have tried several times, but with no luck.  Too dry, too moist, too squishy, I was never successful.  Now, I just treat them as annuals, and buy new ones every spring.

Looking for more information about dahlias, I was amazed at the number of groups that grow dahlias and sponsor shows.  The American Dahlia Society (http://dahlia.org) has chapters in at least 28 states and several in Canada.  There are entire gardens devoted just to dahlias, and hundreds of shows all over the country.  Just searching for dahlia generates over 1 million hits on Google.  There are many sites that have hundreds of gorgeous photos of the different varieties.  I can see that I am not alone in my admiration for these beautiful flowers.


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2 Responses to “Dahlia”

  1. Kem Says:

    I like the pictures! The black-eyed Susan vine is pretty. When I was a kid, Mom saved dahlia tubers. She would dry them outside for a week or so and then store them in a dry corner of the basement. We did the same thing with gladiola bulbs (which are perennials in Maryland!). But I think you had to have a few dry days in October or it just wouldn’t work. I don’t grow dahlias out here.

  2. Aunt Mary Says:

    I think it is sort of a crap shoot….a lot of variables—source of tuber, planting time, sun, rain, etc. etc. I have always saved my tubers and actually feel like I am pretty lucky with them. I put the ones in the ground that look OK and wait. I think I don’t get them in early enough because it just seems forever before I have anything coming up but they are in all of their grandeur now. I take them out of the ground when the frost has pretty much done a number on the plant. I then leave them in the unheated garage for about a week to let them dry out and knock the dirt off. Then they go into a brown paper bag or a cardboard box with some peat or sawdust or something. Then into the ground in May. Sometimes lucky,,,,sometimes not. I am thinking that next spring I will put them in a pot on the porch much earlier and let them start there and put them in the ground if they look like they are going to make it. And, of course, order some more new ones. They do send them far too early usually but I guess those could also go in a pot with soil somewhere inside with light. Whatever I figure out, if I get blooms on the dinnerplate dahlias, it is worth every bit of the fussing.

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