Tuesday, 1 March 2016


Flower of the month - March 2016

This extensive family of flowers with hundreds, if not thousands of cultivars and hybrids are named after the Swedish botanist, Dr Anders Dahl and are from the Asteraceae family (part of the daisy family).

This tuberous-rooted perennial plant is characterized by the different flower types. Most of the variety names have obvious sources as they resemble something else—for example stellar flowers are star shaped, collerette (pictured above) have a collar of petals around the centre, peony and waterlily blooms resemble peonies and waterlilies. Pompons resemble balls, fimbriated dahlias are blooms that match the standard type but have split ends to their petals and are quite ’curly’ (pictured right).

Dahlias take about 8 weeks from planting to flowering. It is very important not to water until growth has reached around 15cm otherwise the tubers may rot.

They will require staking as tall varieties can grow as high as 1.8 metres! Although in this climate, the shorter ones seem to fare better.

The following pests can affect Dahlias - Thrips, Aphids, Two Spotted Mite, White Fly, Cut Worms, Mealy Bug, Snails, Virus and Powdery Mildew (what a line up!). The main thing to keep in mind is if you have an insect use an Insecticide. For Mites, use a Miticide and Snail Bait for Snails and Slugs. Virus appears in a variety of forms and severely distorts leaves and stunts plants. There is absolutely no cure for this except 'the spade' - removal of the plant because if you do not, the virus might well be transferred to neighbouring plants magnifying the problem for the following season.

Some Top Dahlias:

Seed varieties 'Figaro Mix' or 'Cinderella Mix' - a wide colour range which has semi-double flowers.

'Bishop of Llandaff' a Welsh heritage form for perennial borders with bright red flowers and dark purple foliage.

'Le Coco' a yellow single flower with a red centre and dark purple foliage.

'Villandry' Delbard dahlia with 15cm-wide formal cactus blooms in pink and lemon.

'Anne's Delight' a formal cream 15cm-wide bloom with a soft lavender blush.

'Formby Crest' a show winning, 10cm-wide, bronze-flowered ball form.

'Tiger Boy' 30cm-wide, orange-red blooms flecked with burgundy.

'Ken's Gold' a yellow, waterlily-shaped flower.

'Cha Cha' cacti form, cerise pink blooms with a lemon centre.

Dwarf tree dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) 'Timothy Hammett' a single lilac flowers with a yellow centre on a dwarf tree dahlia.

Further reading and the most beautiful images can be found here.

A link to see how to stake Dahlias.

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