Category: dahlias

Late Fall Blooms

 

Skipping to the good stuff here — skipping spring poppies, summer sweet peas and getting straight into the high summer/autumn beauties!

My BESTIE is getting married October 8th this year so I need to focus. She’s enlisted me to do her flowers and I couldn’t be more excited!

Autumn is when the bounty rolls in. Last year October was the month I felt like I hit my stride. The dahlias, zinnias and foliage were amazing!

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The dahlias!

 

I love the idea of breaking floral elements into three categories – the brides, bridesmaids and “uglies”.

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The bride is that cafe au lait dahlia – demanding attention. The most perfect element.

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The bridesmaids could be the bolder dahlias above. Their color brings contrast that helps the bride pop. Her beauty and form still hold the spotlight.

Or they can be as simple and unassuming as the neutral zinnias below. Echoing the subtle color of the bride while still allowing her to shine

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The “uglies” are the foliage. To me they are lush, verdant and help everyone else pop. On their own they’re not much to look at. They have a vital role as filler, it’d take a LOT more flowers without them!

 

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Dahlia Tubers

My garden is done for the 2014 season. I dug up the dahlias that I loved this year, and photos of them in bloom and the tubers produced are below.

The first two photos are of a purple dahlia that was grown from seed. These were grown in an area that was amended with sand and compost in my heavy clay garden. They bloomed profusely, but did not bud until a few weeks after the dahlias grown from purchased tubers. Big, fluffy cloud like booms. I’m curious to know what dahlia form these are considered. Are they similar to any named varieties?

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Purple dahlia from Seed

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Same purple Dahlia from Seed

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Yellow dahlia from seed

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Tubers from the yellow dahlia grown from seed

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Comparison of the yellow and purple dahlias grown from seed

These were interesting in that the purple was a typical dahlia clump, while the yellow had distinct stems with different clumps that were already divided — score!

I was hesitant to grow dahlias from seed because I was unsure of the blooms that would result, but I am so happy I did! The pompon dahlias were some of the earliest to start budding and blooming. The larger cloud like purple and yellow plants started blooming later, I still had blooms into November!

After their leaves browned I dug the roots of the yellow and purple variety to save them. I was very impressed with the tuber quality that resulted from these seed grown dahlias and I’m excited to have more known tubers for next year.

The smaller dahlias I left in the ground to overwinter. I doubt they will come back in my zone 5b Chicago garden and I kind of hope they don’t. I’m excited to start another row from seed next year! Hopefully I’ll be in for a few more nice surprises.

Up next is the only purchased tuber I planted — Wittem. I chose this variety to use for my wedding. I’m sure I’ll have a much more in depth post in the future.

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Wittem white dahlia from purchased tuber

I started with 6 clumps in the spring and I’m not sure how many I have for next year, but wow did they multiply! I’m going to clean them up best I can and store them in a cool spot in the basement. Will divide in the spring and report back.

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Wittem monster clump grown in heavy clay soil

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Comparison photo of Wittem bulbs grown in amended soil (compost and sand) and unamended clay

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These tubers were fat! Surprised they did so well in the heavy clay, monster clump not pictured

 

Not sure I’ll put dahlias I intend to dig up in they clay again as it was a chore to dig them out. Very nice tubers for next year.

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It was a great first year of growing dahlias and I’ll continue, but I don’t think they’ll get as large of a chunk in my garden in the future.  I will give away a few of the clumps to friends and family. I do hope to invest in a lotus flowering variety for next year and perhaps some consistent bedding varieties.  My number one priority next year is fragrance, which dahlia’s unfortunately are completely void of. Their foliage has a distinctive scent I don’t dislike, but it’s not floral.

 

Pompon Dahlias

Grown from seed. Prolific. I am going to attempt to overwinter the tubers produced. In my zone 5b garden… Risky but I’m not too concerned. If it works it’s good to know. If it doesn’t I’m not out much.

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