Sarah has selected the tropical showgirls of the garden for our ‘Plant of the Week’ With their many colours and forms, Dahlias are one of the lowest maintenance, highest production cut flowers and garden plants you can grow. In a good year, they’ll flower from late June to late November (particularly in a sheltered spot).
Occasionally you get the Dahlia earwig phobia, and yes earwigs particularly enjoy the flowers and young leaves of Dahlia’s however if you trap earwigs by placing upturned flower pots loosely stuffed with hay or straw on canes among your Dahlia plants and every morning shake out the pots and remove the earwigs you should be earwig free. The other pest is the snail/slug which also like to feast on the foliage. Again following sensible practices (beer traps, organic pellets etc) you can have gorgeous Dahlias.
So onto the positive attributes of these wonderful plants…..
Dahlias are versatile summer flowers. Usually planted in borders but some varieties are great in containers, creating colourful displays on your patio until the first frosts of autumn.
Dahlia ‘Moonfire’ is ideal in containers or at the front of borders, the flowers set brightly against richly bronzed foliage. 90cm (3ft)Bright and softly fiery, the prolific flowers are bright yellow, softened with slightly peachy overtones. Towards the centre each petal shades to vivid orange-scarlet around the dark eye which becomes yellow as the flower matures.
One of the great attributes of dahlias is that they can flower for a long period between midsummer and the end of autumn. However, the key to extended flowering lies in deadheading. Deadhead and you shall be rewarded with constant cut flowers.
Dahlia ‘Happy Single Wink’ with its dark purple foliage dahlia with single pink daisy-like flowers with red centre make for a gorgeous flower.
Dahlias are large enough to add presence to a border or to stand alone as a featured plant. The multitude of different varieties offers countless different flower shapes and colours. The flowers are classified as follows Single Flowered Dahlias, Anemone-flowered dahlias, Collerette dahlias, Waterlily dahlias, Decorative dahlias, Ball dahlias, Pompon dahlias, Cactus dahlias, Semi-Cactus dahlias, Fimbriated dahlias, Star dahlias, Double Orchid dahlias and Paeony dahlias.
But that is a bit technical for most as when you visit the garden centre unless you are Dahlia fanatic it is the colour that grabs you and year after year it is the old favourite of Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ that remains popular.
Do you have a favourite Dahlia?