Friday, July 25, 2008

A Growing Love for Dahlias

Not all of my few Dahlias are blooming yet, but a few have started to open up. My love affair with dahlias is still very young. I bought my first last year. I nice old woman in Farm and Fleet told me they were pretty easy to care for, simply "stick them in dirt in a pot in the window sill now (March), bring em' out afte frost, and dig them up and store them in the basement for winter." Sounded easy enough, and the pictures of the packages were so beautiful! I grabbed a "Kelvin Floodlight" and "Lavender Perfection" for somewhere around $3 a tuber, and proceeded home to plant them.

I was so excited to see them towering high within weeks, and come May, when I could move them outside, they continued to please me. One was 3 feet high with buds! Last spring it was the most exciting thing in the garden for me, until my son came swinging on by with this arms flailing and demolished it. It never did bloom! All season. I was so bummed. But the Lavendar Perfection opened a few stunted flowers for me, enough to make me want to try storing them and growing them again in the spring.

I read up extensively on storing them properly. I really wanted to get it right. I found out peat moss was the most reccommended storing medium. I also read it was important to not let dahlias dry out before you store them. I dug them up burried them in a bundle of peat moss, packed in a loose grocery store bag with holes poked into it (for air circulation), and set them nin a box with my other tender bulbs. One of the two tubers I stored made it out of winter fine, the other shrivelled up, and didn't look good, so it was placed into the trash (wish I would have tried to see if it would grow, just incase). I didn't label them when I stored them, but which ever survived is thriving in the garden, just has yet to open a bloom.

My 50% success rate was enough for me to try more this spring. I was not, however, so gung-ho that I wanted to pay a lot for the dahlias. I limited myself to clearance, or deep sale finds, (again $2-3) and came home with 4 more varieties this spring. They are truly NOT dissappointing me!

This Arabian Night is magical to me. I've never seen such a dark, velvety red color. I regreat where I placed it in the garden, but you live you learn, and nest year I'll put it somewhere better. There are few perennials and annuals this hue, so I'm excited to have it. I'm picturing it with some minty winter blue colored foliage & some bold white or blue flowered perennials next year?

This one below was supposed to be 'Fuego' an incredible autumn hued impression dahlia, but instead I think I got an old Bishop of Llandolph (sp?). Totally not complaining, I love this bright deep red color, and the height is darn right charming. I love how clean the blooms are, the most solid red, untouched, and sparkling like a painting.

This big un' is Procyon. I also love it. It offers such a bright color, almost a dark bright melon orange, I can't help but smile when I see it from across the yard. It's in a pot, and I'm not entirely happy with where I placed it, but next year, I have better plans... definately going into a flower bed, probably behind some of my red roses.

By far, the killer beauty in the garden is this fringed dahlia, 'Fringed Star.' I have it in part shade, heavy morning sun, and it's pumping out these huge surreal flowers. They're bigger than my hand, to give you and idea. The color's a pale coral, with a creamy yellow center. I did jet spray the center of these blooms with the hose a few times to deter any pests. It seems to have worked. I see this one with some low growing black eyed susans next year... I am really growing to love this one, and will be wishlisting some large fringed dahlias for sure next year!!

Any tips on storing? I'm really looking to improve my success rate! :)
Happy Gardening!


cindee said...

The dahlias are all just beautiful. I think i like the Bishop probably because of its shape. Its very unique. The other favorite is the fringed. I have a couple dahlias but they are not doing to well this year...I wonder if its from the smoke. Where we live I don't dig them in the winter. They stay put and come back each year. So I can't help you there. Seems like what you are doing is the right way. In the stores when you buy them bareroot they come in a tad bit of sawdust...maybe that would work too. I would think being dry when you store them would be best too. I think there is something you can buy to dip them in also that helps. You might search online for how to store dahlia tubers.(-: Yours are sure pretty so you must be doing it right!!!!!

Meems said...

Jamie: Thanks for visiting Hoe&Shovel way down here in the south where we don't grow dahlias. They can be grown in North Florida just not where I am.

All of yours are looking vibrant and healthy. I'm with you on the texture of the fringy one...has to be my favorite. Large flowers are something to behold aren't they? I'm always in awe of the color, form and sheer wonder of how one head can be so lovely.
Have a great weekend!
Meems @Hoe&Shovel

Eve said...

I love the fringie ones. I can't grow them either here on the Gulf Coast but I buy them from time to time as cut flowers.

Jamie said...

Thanks for you comments everyone! Cindee, I'll have to look into this dip idea.

I know Dahlia's go fabulous in southern california, I wonder why they don't grow on the Gulf Coast. I thought anything could grow there! Wow...