Dahlias For The Garden
Most enthusiasts started with these garden varieties
Most Garden Centres sell dahlias suited for normal garden beds. These varieties are mostly compact and self-supporting and so don’t require lots of space or need staking. They bloom prolifically and will provide a succession of flowers for the house while still making a great display in the garden.
You can get dark-leaved dahlias, whose leaves can be almost black. There are Tiny Tots you can grow in pots and tree dahlias more than three metres tall.
Of course the show types are also fantastic in the garden but they usually require more space and more effort to get the best rewards.
Bedding dahlias are often distinguished from taller border types because they only grow thirty to sixty centimetres tall. Suited to the front of the bed, they can also be grown in pots.
Blooms are produced in prolific numbers on stout stems that hold them well above the foliage. Like all dahlias they will flower for months if they are picked and deadheaded regularly.
Border dahlias are a little taller, up to a metre or so, but with stems strong enough that they do not require support.
This saves labour and means there are no stakes to detract from the garden's appearance.
Dark-leaved dahlias are border and bedding types with leaves that vary from a very dark green, often tinged with chocolate, to almost black.
Many produce flowers in very bright colours (the brilliant scarlet of Bishop of Llandaff is probably the best known) which stand out strongly against the dark foliage.
Tree dahlias are giants with tubers like footballs and stems that can be thicker than your arm. The hollow stems were used as water pipes by the Aztecs. The most widely available species is Dahlia imperialis (pictured) which has been known to grow to about five metres. Lately there has been renewed interest in other species and cultivars.
Really only for larger gardens but they are incredibly easy to propagate. Simply cut the stems into 30cm lengths and lie them on the soil - they will take root and shoot in the spring.