Friday, August 20, 2010

DINNER PLATE DAHLIAS


I think DAHLIAS have got to be one of the most showy and beautiful flowers there are!  Few plants add as much color to the garden as a well-grown dahlia.  What's neat about them is that they bloom abundantly from midsummer through the fall.  Dahlias come in too many colors, shapes, and sizes to even fathom!  I especially love to grow what is known as the "DINNER PLATE" Dahlia--some as big as 13" across!  They come in every color of the rainbow except true blue.  There are dwarf, 12'' tall, to plants that are 3 1/2 to 6 feet tall.  Although  most of the plants have beautiful green foliage, there are some that have wonderful bronzed or maroon foliage.  They are grown from a tuberous root, and in my zone, 5, they need to be lifted in the fall after the first frost and the leaves have turned black.  Carefully dig the tubers, shake off the excess soil, dry them out for a day or two, and store them in a dry, well-ventilated cold place (36-45 degrees), like a root cellar.   In the spring, just replant the tubers.  There are 16 different flower shapes, including cactus, waterlily, ball, anemone, collarette, and singles.  They are listed by size--and the giant, dinner plate are size AA, and are my favorite.  I usually like my dahlias to be 3 1/2 - 4 feet tall, and I specifically look for dinner plates that fit that description.  They like full sun, good air circulation, rich, evenly moist soil, and protection from wind.  Remember that your blooms will face the sun (south), so plant accordingly. Deadhead regularly to encourage new buds to form.  For a big, true dinner plate bloom, pinch out the side buds and lower buds.  If you don't care about size, though, you don't need to do this.  To produce healthy top growth and have large flowers, I pinch off all but the strongest shoots that first appear in the spring after I plant the tubers. And, once they have two or three sets of leaflets, I pinch the top growth again.  You'll also need to stake, or tie stems all season, and prune overcrowded growth to improve their air circulation.  Dahlias are in my favorite top ten flowers, and the extra time put in is well worth every second when you see those first glorious blooms! 
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

1 comment:

  1. My name is Dahlia...awesome. ..no wonder my father named me after the flower. I remember growing up he would always call me "my beautiful flower" .

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