A good place to start is with an understanding of the resources available to assist us in making choices and obtaining the tubers or plants we want. Then you may ask, "Which Ones Do I Choose."
For what purpose do you wish to grow dahlias? How much room do you have? Will you have beds to grow show dahlias or do you just want some foliage and cutting flowers to enhance your landscape. Different dahlia cultivars range in height from twelve inches to seven or eight feet. One "tree dahlia" can reach twenty feet. Most plants are around three or four feet. My annual flower beds will be lined with border dahlias this year. Maybe they will be no taller than two feet with a profusion of blooms.
Buying dahlia stock is much like buying anything
else—you get what you pay for. Needless to say, there are some really beautiful
dahlias out there that are not on the Fabulous Fifty list. If you want to start
with possible show winning blooms though, look at the blossoms pictured in the "Gallery."
You should also know that it is almost impossible to capture the true color of
deep burgundy, reds, purples, and lavenders on film. Not very many flowers are
the shocking pink you will see on the screen. Sometimes the description is not
really what you think it should be because the number of colors allowed is very
limited. You probably already know what your favorite flower color is. Or maybe
you want the dahlias to carry out a color theme for your landscape. My
favorites are deep, rich colors in large blossoms such as Spartacus and
Talk with someone who has grown dahlias—they all like to talk about them. The size of the plant and its blooms depend upon how well it likes where you place it and whether you do all the necessary pruning and disbudding to control growth. You probably will not have a ten inch bloom unless you prune everything off one branch except one bud. You must remove spent blooms and remove extra buds if you want the plant to blossom continuously. I suggest you start with a few plants of your favorite color, size of bloom, and a combination of formal decorative, informal decorative, and cactus varieties. Once you’ve grown a few, you’ll be hooked. We have trouble every year deciding what we will grow and I’d like to have one of everything. I know of no other more beautiful flower...Louise Lawrence