Wednesday, September 12, 2012


SHOW OFFS.  I’d never paid much attention to Dahlias until I came to Oregon and then only because the person who cut my hair had an unbelievable collection of them planted in her backyard.  As a true Dahlia aficionado she gave me my first tubers along with her enthusiasm and knowledge of the plant.
Now I have them tucked away in every corner of the perennial garden.  At the end of summer they are the main attraction.  Looking around the garden all else has started to fade except this darling diva.  Their time has come and they will show off their splendor with a profusion of bloom through October.  

Dahlias have genuine horticulture merit and great ornamental value in the garden .Their diversity is astonishing in form, color and size from lowly little border flowers to giant plate size blossoms and their dramatic bouquets fill the house for weeks.

They originated from the mountains of Mexico and thrive in even average soil that must be well drained.  They are grown from tubers and not bulbs. Tubers have "eyes", for example a potato is considered a "tuber."  Bulbs (daffodils, tulips, lilies) are planted in the fall, Dahlias are planted in the spring.

Here in Oregon we plant after danger of frost has past (about the end of April) in a sunny location.  The taller Dahlias need to be supported because the flowers get so heavy from rain or wind that it is impossible for them not to fall.

Whether to dig or not to dig - that is the question in Oregon. In the colder regions of the country Dahlias are removed at the first light frost and stored in sawdust (or something like sawdust) in a cool dark place. Because of our milder (but not quite mild enough) climate we are a little hesitant.  I always leave mine in the ground.  I think what really kills them is poor soil drainage, not frost.  My theory is they have to have good drainage or they’ll rot.

If you want to visit a Dahlia producer  there are plenty in the WV.  Probably the most “famous”  is the Swann Island Dahlia Farm up in Canby or if you are ever in or around the town of Turner you can visit Frey’s Dahlias .  They are also at the Salem Saturday Market  each Saturday during the summer.

Looking around on the web I also found an intriguing Dahlia producer in Portland called Old House Dahlias.  I’ve never been there but would love to stop in the next time I’m in Portland. According to the website, the proprietor, Mark Harvey, started growing Dahlias in his backyard in 2003. He now offers more than 175 varieties which he continues to grow in his backyard, but he also has a one-acre farm in Corbett and one acre in Portland's South Waterfront district. If you live in Portland, you can buy dahlias at 8005 SE Mill Street in the Montavilla neighborhood. Mark hosts an annual dahlia fest each September 8-9 and 15-16.  What's really interesting is that they also sell dahlia tubers for food, great raw on salads (who knew?)

Now is the time to look for that Dahlia you want to grow next spring - you only have a couple of weeks left to see these beauties - the real show offs in the garden!  

Life is good - bye for now.  Evelyn

Remember:  Buy Local When You Can!


Kathy A Delightsome Life said...

I just love Dahlias - I was wondering while reading why i don't have more - there is a wide variety in shape and color - all so spectacular! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

Evelyn Meadows said...

Thanks Kathy, they really are the backbone of my garden from August on. They're worth their weight in gold and they come back every year in Oregon. E