dahlia

A Dahlia By Any Other Name...

The Dahlia is the national flower of Mexico - and for good reason. They are indigenous to Mexico and I’m sure when the Mexicans first saw them in full bloom they knew they were worthy of national recognition.
 
Given their spectacular floral display, I always say that if you want to make new friends, plant some large Dahlias in your front yard. Pedestrians will be unable to resist stopping for a chat and checking out your spectacular plants.

Dahlias aren’t tough to grow. As the saying goes, "If you can grow tomatoes, then you can grow Dahlias". Give them plenty of sun, fertilize with 10-4-3 and water them regularly.
 
The selection of flower colours, patterns, and heights is almost unlimited. Dahlias range from foot tall plants to those that are eyeball height.

The most challenging things with Dahlias are twofold: Deciding which varieties to plant is number one. Second is choosing how to say the word Dahlia. The correct pronunciation is "doll-e-uh" after the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl. But many people call them "day-lee-uh". I confess that I use both the correct and incorrect names depending on my mood. Even though "doll-e-uh" is absolutely the correct pronunciation, I hate correcting people who say "day-lee-uh" – sounds rather pretentious.
 
So you say "po-tay-to" I say "po-tah-to". Who cares? Enjoyment of your Dahlia flowers is the most important thing. I can say with certainty that how you pronounce Dahlia will have no impact on its beauty.

~Jim Hole

Summer Blooming Flower Bulbs

If you’re looking for stunning blooms in your garden this year, now is the time to plant those bulbs!

There are lots of fantastic options to choose from, such as such as gladioli, callas, dahlias, lilium, tuberous begonias, and crocosmias. When it comes to summer blooming bulbs, you've got choice!


Here are a few of our favourites. Each of these will bloom at slightly different times and complement each other, giving you a gorgeous display all the way from early to late summer:

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 Lilium – Mysterious Blend (Liliaceae)  – An early-summer bloomer, this is a great new mix on an old favourite. “Mysterious Blend” is a stunning mix of Asiatic lilies with flowers of the purest white mixed with flowers of the deepest purples and reds.

 
The flowers feature glossy petals that are firm and long-lasting in cut flower arrangements, or as a surefire way to add dramatic colour to your garden.


Lilium prefer full-sun to partial-shade, and grow 90-150cm tall.


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Calla – Royal Majesty (Zantedeschia aethiopica) –  A mid-summer bloomer, Callas have a certain air of elegance like no other flower. Their unique cup- shape, upright sword-like leaves, and vivid colours are a favourite for both gardeners and florists alike! 


The “Royal Majesty” mix is a gorgeous blend of whites, pinks and purples. These cool tones will certainly be the focal highlight of your garden.


Perfect for container gardening, or used as a border in your garden, Callas are surprisingly easy to grow. Enjoying full sun to partial shade and growing 30-91cm tall.


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Dahlia – Myrtle’s Folly (Dahlia fimbriata) A late-summer bloomer, it’s hard to imagine a flower more eye-popping than this enormous burst of narrow, twisted, and vibrantly colored petals. 


Each dinner-plate blossom is massive and an absolute bonfire of hot colors. From gold to peach to hot pink, the Myrtle’s Folly Dahlia is a beautiful one-of-a-kind bouquet all on its own!


 Myrtle's Folly Dahlia is a large plant, and will grow to be about 122cm tall at maturity, with a spread of 76cm. Since the blooms are so massive, the flower stalks can be weak and may require staking in exposed sites or excessively rich soils.

 

 

Dinner Plate Dahlias

 

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:

  1.  “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.
  2.  “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.
  3.  “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, sowhile it is important to warm the roots for rapid and vigorous rootingit 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.