Dahlias are some of the most swoon worthy blooms you can find in a garden. What is more, they reach their pinnacle in the late summer when the rest of the garden is looking tired. They are also some of the easiest to grow--could you ask for anything more? Here I will detail a few of the different types of dahlias and offer a step by step guide on how to grow them. If you do, come July and August your garden is sure to be the envy of the neighborhood and your home swimming in cut flowers.
Dahlias don't just make dreamy cut flowers, they make dreamy cut flowers you usually can't buy without access to florist-only wholesalers. Then, even if you did have access to these markets, dahlias are SUPER pricy per stem! But this year YOU won't have this problem because you are just in time to grow your very own dahlias. With the slightest planning and by following these simple guidelines, you will have your very own, exclusive access to dahlias in less than 100 days!
Dahlias take anywhere from 90 to 120 days to produce flowers. The bigger the bloom, the longer they take to flower. Here in Colorado we only have 140 frost free days, which means my dinner plate dahlias (the jumbo ones the size of a head) used to start blooming just in time for the winter to kill them all off. This is why I start my dahlias in pots as soon as I can! I also often grow them completely in pots so that when it does get cold, I simply move them indoors and keep harvesting! (Of course, my greenhouse helps immensely with this but before I had a greenhouse I moved them straight into my house--luckily my husband loves dahlias even more than I do!)
So, where to buy Dahlias? There are a number of places you can buy from, I love Swam Island Dahlias and Arrow Head Dahlias (They are a Colorado Farm!) but both sell out fast and by late winter are pretty depleted. A great source for dahlias is Brecks and Eden Brother's and their dahlias usually go on sale by late February!
The first question you want to ask yourself is: what size dahlia are you interested in? The best dahlias for cutting come in three general sizes: pom pom dahlias, mid-size dahlias, and dinner plate dahlias. There are also carpet and border dahlias that look fantastic in the garden but their stems are too short to use in floral arrangements.
Pom Pom Dahlias
Pom Pom Dahlias are perfectly round gems of flowers with curled petals that exhibit an almost perfect geometry and they add a touch of structured whimsy to any arrangement. This one is called burlesque and was one of my favorite new plantings last year. As the bloom aged, it turned from bright pink to a coppery rose. I also grew a chocolaty red small dahlia that was perfect in arrangments featuring sunflowers. Remember, while billowy pastel dahlias are to die for, they bloom in late summer when the rest of the garden is trending toward the bright and brashy--think sunflowers and black eyed Susan's.
These blooms range in size from 5" to 8" across and come in the greatest variety of colors. From mono-chromatic varieties to Rembrandt-esque blooms that look like a painter splattered them, the flowers make for eye-popping additions to any flower ornaments.