Dahlia pinnata and Dahlia juarezii
A race of tuberous-rooted perennials found in
Mexico and Guatemala.
Dahlia pinnata, also known as Dahlia variabilis and
Dahlia rosea, had been used in the evolution of the
modern varieties. The cactus varieties are derived
from Dahlia juarezii.
From these, and possibly other
species, have arisen the present garden forms
known as cactus, semi-cactus, pompon, decorative,
The plants vary in height from
a foot to six feet.
The flowers vary in size from
two inches in diameter in the case of pompon varieties,
to fifteen inches in the case of large decorative
varieties. They are mostly double in form, although
some have single or semi-double flowers.
Dahlias will grow in any rich soil in full sun
and with perfect drainage. As they are only half-hardy,
it is necessary to lift the tubers after the first
autumnal frost, and dry and store in frost-proof
Propagation is by division of the tubers or by
cuttings taken from tubers started into growth
in February in heat, and rooted under glass.
The flowering season is from July to September.
Half Hardy Perennial
3 to 5 feet.
Flowers of many colours, July to October.
The Dahlia in its several varieties is one of
the most serviceable flowers of later summer.
It may be grown with but little more care than
a potato; it has, as yet, no specific disease;
and if its flowers somewhat lack delicacy and
the poetry of association, they supply abundance
of the fine colour to the borders when the inevitable
gaps and shabbiness of August begin to appear,
and they continue to bloom without any deterioration
till the first sharp frosts cuts the plants down.
There are four main divisions of Dahlias:
the class called “Show and Fancy”
–the old-fashioned double Dahlia, with spherical
flowers of close-set quilled petals; the “shows”
are flowers of one colour, or edged with a second
colour; the “Fancies” are of two or
more colours, striped and splashed.
Second, the “Cactus” race; double
flowers with narrow petals, pointed or twisted;
they are quite modern, compared with the “Shows”,
and possess many shades of delicate colour not
found in the older breed.
Third, the “Singles”, flat circular
flowers with one row of petals surrounding a seed-disc.
They were ignored as weeds for several generations,
but came into favour with a general change of
taste some twenty-five years ago.
Fourth, the Pompons or Bouquet Dahlias. These
are merely miniatures of the double “Shows”;
the plant more dwarf and the flowers small and
The culture of the several sorts is practically
the same. The beginner should obtain rooted cuttings
in May, and plant them out in well-dug and heavily
The after care consists in watering
in dry weather and staking and tying. Dahlias
are very succulent and brittle, and may be wrecked
altogether by a summer storm. A stout stake, four
to five feet out of the ground, must be firmly
driven in at the time of planting, and the main
shoots looped to this with tar-string as they
If the plants grow large, they will probably
require one or two additional sticks, and the
branches as they spread must be tied out –
not bunched together – with bast.
are very destructive to the blooms; the best remedy
is putting a small inverted flowerpot, with some
crumpled paper inside it, on the top of the main
stake. The earwigs may be shaken out of the paper
every morning and despatched or deported.
first sharp frost in autumn will turn the plants
to blackened wrecks; the stems should then be
cut off four or five inches from the ground, and
not later than November the roots must be forked
carefully up, cleaned of wet mould, and stored
in a cellar or other cool place secure from frost.
The following April they must be packed together
in a little light mould in frames, and kept safe
from frost by means of mats on the lights. The
sun’s warmth will be quite sufficient to
bring on the growth in ample time for planting
out in May or early June.
If the gardener wishes
to increase his stock of plants, he should put
the roots on a mild hotbed in March, and when
the shoots are about three inches long, they should
be broken off close to the tubers and planted
as cuttings in small pots of sandy soil. These
cuttings, if kept moist, and shaded from direct
sun, will soon root and form plants ready for
putting out in June.
In July or August pieces
of firm woody shoots, cut off close below a joint,
will root easily in a shady border. The single
varieties may be easily raised from seed, by sowing
early in March, in a hotbed or greenhouse and
growing on with the half-hardy annual routine.
It may be noted here that in cutting single Dahlias
the flowers should be taken quite early in the
morning, and those chosen whose seed-disk shows
very few expanded florets; when the centre is
full of these, the petals are on the point of
The named sorts of Dahlias are so numerous and
the favourites in the growers’ catalogues
are so quickly superannuated and deposed, that
it would be useless to give the beginner a list
of varieties. If he does not care to study the
descriptions in the catalogues, he may safely
try the nurserymen’s choice, “our