Shepton Mallet Hort Soc on trend 2019

These notes were taken during Naomi Slade’s talk – Delving into Dahlias – Naomi Slade

Interesting facts

  • Many Dahlias are from the mountainous regions of Central America and therefore they like good drainage and humidity
  • Known due to their hollow stems as the ‘water pipe plant’
  • Many Dahlia tubers are edible as are the petals
  • Dahlia pinnata was cultivated by the Aztecs and was introduced to Spain in 1798. Modern dahlias are often the product of hybridization between D. pinnata and Dahlia coccinea
  • Dahlias were brought to Europe in the 18th Century by plant collectors which sparked off hybridisation leading first to ‘Ball’ forms, then Anemone forms (e.g. D. ‘Totally Tangerine’)
    Until the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, Dahlias were only for the elite plant collectors, the exhibition was the first exposure to the public which led to even more hybridization leading to Collaretted types, Lilliput types, Cactus (e.g. ‘Willo Flecks’) and Peony types (e.g. D. ‘Bishop of Llandalff’)
  • Dahlias are octaploid which means they have 8 sets of chromosomes (we are diploid with only 2 sets), this makes for endless genetic diversity and hybridization options. Save your seeds and see what grows
  • Dahlias are related to Jerusalem artichoke, their carbohydrate storage food is the same – inulin
  • Dahlias fell from popularity in about 1940′s
  • Dahlia Renaissance in 2000 – new uses of Dahlias for containers and floristry rather than only showing them
  • New cultivars from New Zealand e.g. ‘Moonfire’, ‘Happy Single Party’ and the bronze foliaged ‘Mystic Dreamer’
  • The National Collection of Dahlias is near Penzance, free to visit and well worth it
  • Dead heading helps to enhance flowering

Check out

Dahlia ‘Hamari Gold’

Dahlia imperialis – grows to 6-8m although more usually 2-3 and rarely flowers in our climate

Dahlia merkii – single scrambling plant good to mix into borders, can take a while to establish


Editor’s note – Try

Orange Dahlia with Stipa tenuissima, pale yellow Achillea, and yellow Kniphofia


Notes by Angela Morley