As the name suggests, dinner plate dahlias are plants that produce giant, dinner plate-sized flowers.
And while the size of their flowers is impressive in itself, even more impressive is the myriad of colours, textures, and varieties of dinner plate dahlias there are to choose from. With their huge variety, and huge flowers, they are—in my opinion—the most spectacular of all the garden plants that we can grow here.
Here Comes Doll-ee-uh
Dahlias originated in the tropical climes of Central and South America, are the national flower of Mexico, and were named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl a couple of centuries ago.
But if Anders was around today, he might be a little upset because few people correctly pronounce the name of the plant that bears his name. Dahlias should be pronounced “doll - ee - uhs” but most people call them “day - lee - uhs.”
I confess that I also pronounce it incorrectly, but I grew up saying day and I just can’t seem to kick the habit.
My 3 Favourites
Picking out the best varieties is tough because there are so many great ones but here are few of my favourites:
- “Kelvin Floodlight” is aptly named because it produces bold, bright-yellow flowers that I find very uplifting because of their warm colour. When the sunlight hits Kelvin Floodlight it does indeed look like it is emitting a beam of light.
- “Sir Alfred Ramsey” is two-toned and, for some strange reason, reminds me of a popsicle. Bright-white petals crown the top of the flower with dark pink tones adorning the bottom of the cluster. Where Kelvin Floodlight evokes feelings of warmth, Sir Alfred Ramsey looks icy and cool.
- “Avignon” is one more of my favourites. It has white petals and appears to have been splashed with purple paint from an artist’s paintbrush. It’s the haute couture dahlia amongst the group and the one I find most intriguing.
Let These Dinner Plates Cool Off
The toughest part about growing dinner plate dahlias is slowing them down. They tend to shoot-up very rapidly in warm temperatures, so—while it is important to warm the roots for rapid and vigorous rooting—it is wise to cool them down a bit once they emerge from the soil. Bright light and temperatures in the 16-18°C range are ideal once the dahlias begin to poke through the soil.
All dinner plate dahlias like a rich, well-drained soil, and because they are such large, floriferous plants they need quite a bit of food to keep them healthy and robust. I give my dahlias a shot of Nature’s Source Fertilizer every week, and they respond beautifully with vigorous growth and beautiful flowers.
Keep in mind that dinner plate dahlias, like all dahlias, are not frost tolerant and the tubers must be pulled out of the garden in fall and stored indoor in a cool, dark spot. A cold but not freezing garage is ideal.
Warning: Dahlias May be Addictive
Dinner plate dahlias are perfect showstoppers and make any gardener feel like an expert. But be forewarned. Growing spectacular, gigantic dinner plate dahlias can be addictive and, once you’ve grown them, it may kill your desire to purchase any plants described as dwarf, miniature or petite.