Hello dahlias :)

I’ve always dabbled a little in dahlias, but last year I treated myself to a few named ones from Swan Island Dahlias.  Last year they did great, this year even better!

dahlia moonstruck

Dahlia “moonstruck” would look great in a border, it’s got a nice height and really puts out the flowers.

I did lose a couple (my overwintering technique is sloppy at best) but I like to think of it as natural selection.  Eventually I’ll be left with only the dahlias that can tolerate my abuse!  Right now if I can only keep them watered and possibly fertilized once more they should put on a great show until frost cuts them down.

dahlia tanjoh

Dahlia “Tanjoh” barely bloomed last year, this year it’s in a much better spot and is really starting to put on a nice show.

I consider dahlias to be as easy to grow as a cabbage.  Maybe that’s why some people look down on them, they grow so lush and showy that there’s little room for subtlety and finesse…. which is just fine with me.  I grow them best amongst the vegetables where they can be fussed over and freely cut for the house, and they relish the easy life amongst the tomatoes and beans.

dahlia 'mathew alan'

This was supposed to be my favorite from last year “Plum Pretty”, but apparently it’s dahlia “Mathew Alan’. He’s a nice enough dahlia, but this means it was the plum that died over winter and went onto the compost pile….

I love all kinds of dahlias, but seem to be stuck on the quilled ‘cactus’ types.  A six inch wide cactus bloom and a height of about four feet seem just right for my taste, but a look through any dahlia offering will show plants from a half a foot to six with blooms from one inch to twelve…. and daisies, pom poms, dinnerplates, waterlilies, collarettes and more and more in the way of bloom types.

dahlia 'bride to be'

With a generic white flower name such as ‘Bride to Be’ I would guess this one would be perfect for a wedding arrangement. It’s a waterlily type, with broad, perfectly arranged, rounded petals.

Water, rich soil, and full sun are all these ask of me.  They should be staked, but I’m the sort who waits until a storm knocks them all down before I do anything….. I should really reconsider that plan, especially since I just picked up some suitable wood at the DIY store (no excuses!)

dahlia "goovy" with japanese beetles

Slugs, earwigs and Japanese beetles are the only troublemakers I get in the dahlia patch. They’re never much of a problem, I just dispense punishment, clip the bloom, and wait for a new one to come up in its place. This is dahlia “Groovy”, a darker leaved variety.

I’ve been through dahlia phases before and usually after a couple seasons of digging and replanting I either get bored or end up losing them all to bad winter storage.  We’ll see.  This latest phase is still burning hot and fierce, and I’m tempted to turn over the entire vegetable patch and fill it with dahlias!

peach dahlia

My oldest dahlia. This unidentified one from the box store has been surviving the in and outs of winter storage for at least 9 years…. practically a record in responsibility for me! (If it was taller it could be the 1963 dahlia “Alfred Grille”, but named or nameless still a nice one)

So we’ll see what happens.  Dahlia season is just starting and there are more to come, but opinions may change when the temperatures drop.  Digging soggy dahlia roots on a cold windy October weekend can really kill a plant lust and I’m far too frugal to just buy new tubers each spring.

Do you bother with dahlias?


I’m a sucker for a nice dahlia.  There are a few I overwinter each year, but one cold night last winter I broke down and committed to some new ones.  Here are the first of them, cut and artfully (hah!) arranged on the kitchen table.

growing dahlias

The three peachy ones towards the front have been with me for years, but the others are all new.  I got my new ones from Swan Island Dahlias, but you can do the same (maybe cheaper) at any box store or general bulb seller in the spring.  Mine all appear to be exactly as labeled, cheaper sources are sometimes hit or miss….. but if you just want a couple beautiful flowers, is a name that important?  They also look great in the garden.  Here’s “Moonstruck” which is the best bloomer so far.growing dahlias

“Plum Pretty” is already a new favorite.  I love the pointy petals of the cactus type, and these have a lighter bottom that shows when the petals curl.growing dahlias

“Pink Petticoat” is a little girly for me in both name and color but if pushed I’ll admit I like the two toned color and the smooth wide petals.  It also has outer petals that curl back around to the stem, and I think this is important for show quality blooms, but mine rarely go further than the kitchen!growing dahlias

Ok.  So I really like Pink Petticoat too.

I find dahlias easy to grow.  Most of mine are in the vegetable garden since it’s easier to plant and dig there, and I don’t do anything special as far as care.  A full sun spot, a little compost when planting, a bit of miracle grow if they look pale, and a stake to keep them upright, and you should be good to go.  That reminds me, mine are still unstaked…  another do as I say, not as I do moment 🙂