The Daily Dahlias

These blooms are the sweetest because they are the last soldiers in the garden.

More About Dahlias

On my recent dahlia post, fellow blogger and organic gardener Oceannah commented:

Dahlia’s never do very well here and I’ve stopped growing them. It may be the cool mountain nights, not sure.

Oceannah lives in the mountains of New York.  I live in the hot and humid Ohio valley.  Dahlias grow like weeds here, while I struggle to get a few blooms from my foxgloves and delphiniums.

That started me wondering about the history and origins of dahlias.  What I found was very interesting!

Dahlias are warm weather plants, occurring naturally in Mexico and South America, where the Spaniards first “discovered” them. They are the national flower of Mexico.

The earliest reference to them occurred in 1615, but were then considered as an edible tuber rather than an ornamental flowering plant. At first, they didn’t attract much notice in Europe and weren’t recorded again until the late 18th century when the first tubers were sent back to Europe.

The dahlia was considered primarily an edible plant until 1815 when the first double flowered varieties were bred in Belgium and they quickly became a popular garden plant. They hybridize very easily and by the late 19th Century more than a hundred different varieties were listed.

They were common in the Victorian gardens, and persist as a popular cottage garden plant. They are easy to grow in fertile, well-drained soil. They favor sunny locations, and thrive in heat and humidity.

Today there are over 50,000 different dahlias in cultivation, and to try to bring a degree of order to the bewildering array of shapes, sizes and colors of dahlia flowers they are classified in ten different groups, ranging from Single and Anemone Flowered types to Pompoms, Large Decorative and Cactus flowered dahlias. At this point the classifying committee seems to have given up, and the tenth group is named simply “Miscellaneous”.

Dahlias love heat, humidity and sun, all present in abundance in southern Ohio. South America’s gift is much appreciated in my garden!!
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Bargain Bloomers

Tomorrow, March 15, is the first day to plant summer blooming bulbs in most of the US.  I’m starting today. I just can’t wait!

For the past few years, I’ve gotten most of my bulbs, especially dahlias and peonies, at bargain outlets like Walmart and Home Depot.  Are they as good as ones I’d get from White Flower Farms or Wayside Gardens? Probably not.  But at less than six bucks for two to five roots?  I can’t resist!

I’m starting a new bee-friendly border, and I need a lot of plants. I’m growing lavender, borage, nepeta and other bee favorites from seed, but that’s always tricky. So I’ve bought a bunch of  Walmart’s finest plants to fill in. I’m planting “Sarah Bernhardt” peonies, “Romantic Rose” Daylilies, red hot poker plants and hollyhocks today.

My soil isn’t the greatest, and I’m having to put down a lot of compost. The great thing about bargain plants is if they don’t do well the first year, I won’t be angsting about my investment.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day, and soon it will be officially spring!  Happy gardening!!