Dinnerplate Dahlia Emory Paul
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It is the middle of February and many of us have had a horrible winter and are longing for spring. This newsletter is dedicated to each of you. For those of you who routinely read this newsletter, you will note that there are many, many more photos than usual. This newsletter is designed to stimulate your imaginations for the gardens you will have this upcoming season and engage your memories of your beloved gardens from the past.
Dinnerplate Dahlias are large plants which produce the biggest blossoms. The plants grow to at least 36 inches high, but more commonly 48-60 inches. The very first blossom each season will be the largest, and it is often a good 8-12 inches in diameter. Well cared for plants can produce a succession of very large blossoms, but most of the time the blossom size “diminishes” to about6 inches after the first flower.
The 1920s and 1930s in Europe and America became known as the GoldenAge of Dahlia Breeding. It was during this period that the large flowering varieties were developed as well as many of the intense colors.
Unfortunately, very few heirloom varieties have survived until the present. Some have been lost, but because of a natural genetic tendency for instability in color, size and shape of petal known as “bottom recessive”, many of the old varieties have simply just evolved to something else.
In recent years, dinnerplate dahlias have suffered from an undeserved, problematical reputation. The large blossoms they produce are said to topple the plants and are too large to fit attractively in a vase. The retort to these nasty allegations is that after the first couple of blossoms, dinnerplate blossoms become smaller and more manageable. These large blossoms are meant to be displayed singly in a glass bowl filled with water.
With dinnerplates, it is essential to fertilize with a fertilizer that has little nitrogen. Nitrogen causes the dahlia plant to grow very tall and becomelush with greenery, but inhibits blossom production. Use a ‘blossom booster’ fertilizer for dahlias.
If you are planting in a garden, cover the tubers with 4-6 inches of soil. Planting dahlias deeper than recommended often keeps the stems from toppling over. Make sure there is at least 18 inches between plants. Dahlias do best in full sun, but will produce blossoms with as little as 6 hours of good sunlight (8 AM – 2 PM or 10 AM – 4 PM). They require frequent watering.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, dahlias love the fall. They will bloom nicely in the summer, but they explode into bloom in autumn. They will tolerate mild frosts and along with scabiosas will always be the last men standing in your garden, ready to produce one last magnificent bouquet as a sweet reminder of the past season.
Emory Paul, the dahlia pictured above, is as dramatic a flower as you will ever find. The 40-48 inch plants produce some of the largest blossoms in the dahlia family (10-11 inches). The gently pointed petals are deep, true pink at the center of the flower and pale pink at the edges of the flower. The blooms are not prolific, maybe 10 in a season, but they are so breathtakingly beautiful that it is worth growing this plant.
Dinnerplate Peaches and Cream
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Peaches is one of the most popular dahlias of all time. The plant which reaches a height of 36-40 inches produces an abundance of smaller dinnerplate blossoms (5-7 inches). The petals of each blossom are tricolored beginning with sunshine yellow melting into brilliant orange and tipped with crystal white. The flower leaves the overall impression of a sunburst.
Dinnerplate Mystery Day
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Mystery Day is stunning, but it is not the contrast between the red and white on each petal that makes it stunning. It is the remarkably deep ruby red color. You will never forget it. The smallish (for a dinnerplate) plant (32-40 inches) produces a profusion of small (5-7 inch) dinnerplate blossoms. Mystery Day is a standout in any garden.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Sir Alfred Ramsey
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Sir Alfred Ramsey, as you can see from the picture is a dramatic dahlia with consistently large blossoms in the 6-8 inch diameter range. Its first blossomof the season is usually around 10 inches, but then it settles into a routine of producing an abundance of large 6-8 inch blossoms. The plants reach a height of 36-40 inches.
This dahlia defines the term elegance – the way its pointed, sometimes savoyed petals drape themselves across the blossom can only be described as grace in its earthly form. This is somewhat humorous because this dahlia is named for Sir Alfred Ernest Ramsey (1920-1999), one of Britain’s most celebrated rugby players, who went on to manage the British national team to a World Cup championship in 1966. How an accomplished player of one of the world’s most rough and tumble sports could be associated with such an exquisite flower is a conundrum that only a dahlia enthusiast could appreciate.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Lady Darlene
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This is a glorious dahlia. It is one of the showiest flowers I know. There is something about the thin red edge on each petal that gives the blossom a stunning appearance. In a garden full of gorgeous dahlias, this one will still grab your attention. Lady Darlene in our experience tends to be a smaller dinnerplate maxing out around 6-7 inches in diameter. The 32-36 inch plantsare very prolific as long as you aggressively deadhead. If you can only have one dahlia this year, and you are not going to pick Thomas Edison, then this might be the one to try.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Bristol Stripe
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Bristol Stripe is a WOW! of a dahlia. The huge (8-10 inch) blossoms are borne on 36-44 inch plants. No two blossoms on a single plant are identical. Each petal has a white background on which is painted irregular, burgundy stripes. The petals are gently pointed, slightly curly and leave the impression that they are dancing, literally dancing, around the center of the blossom.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Snow Country
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Snow Country, along with Kelvin Floodlight and Thomas Edison, is one of the oldest dinnerplate dahlias still in cultivation. The 40-44 inch plants produce numerous gleaming, crystal white blossoms. These 6-8inch blossoms retain their stunning whiteness even after days in the sun.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Otto’s Thrill
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I do not know who Otto is, but I can tell you, unequivocally, that his dahlia is a thriller. It is a very unusually colored salmon pink, sometimes with scarlet edges, sometime not. The petals are pointed, but not as pointed as a cactus dahlia and they are broad. Sometimes the petals are incredibly curly, sometimes not. No two blossoms on a single plant are alike. This is truly an exciting plant or to use Otto’s words – a thrill of an experience. The plants are 40-44 inches in height and the blossoms are 6-8 inches in diameter.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Manhattan Island
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Manhattan Island is simply a stunning flower. The 36-40 inch tall plants produce an abundance of scarlet, 6-8 inch blossoms with petals that are graced with the tiniest bit of sunshine yellow at their base. This coloration emphasizes the ‘redness’ of this blossom.
Dinnerplate Dahlia Kelvin Floodlight
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Dahlias are wonderful container plants. They thrive, produce an abundance of blossoms and are generally very attractive in containers. Dahlias should be planted in 14 inch diameter containers that are 10-14 inches deep. ONE DAHLIA TO A CONTAINER. In Hardiness Zones 1-7, dahlias require full sun. In Hardiness Zones 8 and above, they can have partial shade.
The absolutely best soil mix for containers is 60% crummy backyard soil, 20% peat moss and 20% dehydrated cow manure or, even better, compost. If you blatantly refuse to use backyard soil then purchase topsoil (not potting soil, special soil mixes, premium soil). Mix the ingredients together along withsome Timed-Release Blossom Booster fertilizer and pour into a pot so that the pot is half full.
All dahlias that are sold as tubers will have a ‘nubbin’ that is last year’s stem. Find that ‘nubbin’ and holding it, place the dahlia tuber into the pot on top of the soil. Arrange the tubers, gently, around the ‘nubbin’ and fill the pot with the rest of the soil covering the tubers with 4-6 inches of soil.
Water generously and drain thoroughly. Do not allow the pot to stand in water. This is nearly all you have to do to grow dahlias in containers. As with all dahlias, to produce an abundance of blooms, you must deadhead (harvest the blossoms) frequently. The more blossoms you cut, the more you will get.
Kelvin Floodlight is one of the oldest dinnerplate dahlias still under cultivation and one of the most extraordinary dahlias you could ever choose to grow. The blossoms are a beautiful lemon yellow and huge. Kelvin is truly a dinnerplate with the blossoms OFTEN measuring 8-10 inches in diameter.This is the one dinnerplate dahlia whose blossoms, even after the first bloom, are consistently gigantic.
If you are a ‘competitive gardener’ and your passion is growing gigantic fruits, vegetables, blossoms and plants, then Kelvin Floodlight is a great choice. If you are a ‘dramatic gardener’ who adores showcasing a single blossom, then Kelvin Floodlight should be your first choice. This is an exciting dahlia!
Dinnerplate Dahlia Moonlight Sonata
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For a child growing up in a garden, there is no better flower to grow thanthe dahlia. Dahlias are incredibly easy to grow. Their abundant, magnificent blossoms can and should be picked frequently and best of all, for teachers, dahlias bloom most prolifically in the autumn when children are returning tothe classroom. They are an invigorating curiosity that stimulates the mind.
In the dahlia world, fantasy and opulence are mainstays, but Moonlight Sonata carries fantasy and opulence to a new level and because of this, Moonlight Sonata is an ideal dahlia to grow with children. The 6-8 inch blossoms areslightly spherical with a profusion of gently reflexed, curly petals in shadesof salmon orange and peachy pink. I have never seen such a beautiful,fantastical flower. The plants are usually 36-40 inches tall – just the rightsize for a child. Gardening should inspire children and tantalize theirimaginations. This is exactly what Moonlight Sonata does.
We hope you have enjoyed this ‘Feast Your Eyes’ newsletter and that it liftsyour spirits as we face yet another snowstorm. Dinnerplates are trulybreathtaking. A single blossom from a dinnerplate dahlia floating in anelegant glass bowl will often make a more dramatic statement than anentire bouquet of smaller blossoms. I have told some of you many timesand I will say it again to close this newsletter:
If you could only grow one flower, choose a dahlia.
CHECK OUT OUR DETAILED VIDEOS ABOUT GROWING
DAHLIAS IN CONTAINERS, PLANTING DAHLIAS AND
LIFTING DAHLIAS IN THE FALL ON YOUTUBE
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