Ask any flower grower and they will tell you that dahlias are among the most popular flowers. It seems ironic or maybe it’s fitting that they are also among the most difficult to grow. They are native to Mexico where they survive outdoors as perennials from year to year. In our climate, zone 7A, dahlia tubers will not survive the winter in the ground, so, farmers like us must dig up, wash, divide, label and store the tubers indoors each fall. Then, after the threat of frost has past in the spring, the stored tubers must be replanted.
In addition to freezing weather, dahlias are susceptible to slugs, aphids and voles. And as if that’s not enough, they need to be supported with garden stakes as the grow.
One of the reasons dahlias are so popular is that they come in amazing combinations of colors and an impressive variety of sizes and shapes — there are more than 40 varieties and countless hybrids. In Maryland they begin to bloom in the heat of late summer and come
on strong in the fall when many other flower varieties are flagging, making them a welcome distraction through the first hard frost.
Dahlias are popular in floral design work for weddings, market bouquets, and formal arrangements. They make good focal flowers because they tend to be large and have a variety of colors within each bloom. Unfortunately, dahlias don’t have a very long vase life — maybe 5 days at best.
We bought our tubers from a guy named Jack Brown who had been growing dahlias since 1950, and in the process found out that he was 95 years old. Clearly he had a lot of experience growing dahlias! Oddly, he wasn’t sure of varieties he sold us. It didn’t matter to us. We planted them all and waited to see what came up. It’s been a delightful assortment of sizes and colors. We have everything from purple flowers with white tips on their petals to a dinner-plate (large) pale yellow variety. It was like Christmas morning when they started blooming because we didn’t know what each plant would yield.
Apricity Flowers and Blue Gables Farm are teaming to present a hands-on class titled Arranging Dahlias, which will take place on our farm on Sunday, October 10, 2021, 3-5pm. Please consider joining us!