Gardening With Dahlias

This section of the ADS web site features dahlias that do well in gardens and will need little effort or maintenance. The categories for this purpose include general garden type dahlias, dahlias well suited for cut flower use, and low growing border/container dahlias.

Click here for a message from the Chairman, ADS Garden Dahlias Committee

 

Introduction

Beauty in the landscape

Gardeners from many countries have chosen to grace their homes, landscapes, and garden plots with dahlias, one of the longest blooming flowers in cultivation. No doubt, many reasons exist for their choice. While many grow dahlias solely as a decorative planting, others are more interested in artistic arrangement and cut flowers.

For decorative landscaping; they may use them as focal points in the home garden where they may select a plant that possesses a huge bloom, 12 inches or more in diameter, and thereby create a conversation piece. Still, others may concentrate on border plantings (12 inches or so in height) or mass planting of one variety for a special effect. Some find additional uses by using the dahlia for screens where the selected variety is crucial. The landscaping potential is great and the few examples above serve mainly to pique the imagination. In one home garden, the gardener has successfully groomed a small growing dahlia waterlily formation to cascade to the ground near his pool. The number of possibilities abounds including patio dahlias that are specially grown in ornamental troughs, pots, and tubs.

Softening the hardscape

Artistic arrangement adds another dimension to the dahlia. Flower arrangers vie for certain dahlia varieties that allow them to interpret for their thematic arrangement since the dahlia offers so much variation in form, size, and color. For special occasions, one or more baskets of dahlias will set off an event, whether it is for a church service, wedding, funeral, or community meeting. The cut flower comes into its own, though, for the gardener who desires to grow a few plants for house decoration. Whether for the professional or the amateur, the cut flower needs certain qualities, such as vigor, abundant bush habit, adequate stem length, many blooms from the beginning to the end of the season, a long vase life, and insect and disease resistance. Additionally, when the bloom is cut at an immature stage, it must successfully continue its development in water. Color is the dominant quality and gardeners’ preferences will vary greatly. For cutting purposes, small (4-6 inches in diameter), Miniature (2-4 inches in diameter), pompons, and open-centered dahlias function best as cut flowers. Still, it depends on the purpose for which that a gardener grows dahlias.

 

A Deeper Look

1. Garden Type Dahlias – We will introduce you to garden types that grow well in all parts of the country. These are suggested for their color, ease of growing and maintenance.

Many of the garden type dahlias can be found in local garden centers and big box stores. However, if you can’t find a variety you want locally, you can probably find a mail order source in the Big List Dahlia Variety Locator maintained by the Colorado Dahlia Society.

2. Dahlia as a Cut Flower – These varieties lend themselves to use in bouquets and arraignments.

3. Border/Container Dahlias – These little beauties are just the thing for your flower garden as a long lasting color accent. They also are well suited for use in containers by themselves or with other plant material.

We will show pictures of the various types of dahlias we discuss so you can see how they look.  We also include cultural information for the various types. In addition we will show pictures of gardens that feature dahlias along with other flowers and plants. These will not be pictures of exhibition type gardens –straight rows with stakes, shade cloth and only dahlias. If you have pictures of your garden that features dahlias in a garden setting, send them on to the webmaster along with a short description of the garden.

There will also be hints and practices that will make your dahlia growing less stressful and easy.