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Dahlias, one of our favorite non-hibernating tuberous plants, are unmatched as seasonal accents. Since the second half of summer, their regal heads are adorned with flower beds and flower beds. Dahlias anticipate and open the autumn riot of colors and changes in nature. Difficulties in planting, breeding, digging and storing do not diminish the popularity of dahlias. The amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors of luxurious dahlias greatly expands the possibilities of their use in the design of both small and large gardens.
- Description of garden dahlias
- Dahlia classification
- Using dahlias in garden design
- Dahlia partners
Description of garden dahlias
The botanical name of dahlias - dahlia (Dahlia) - is not used in our country, but even in it there is an extraordinary beauty and a hint of royalty, which distinguishes this plant from other garden crops. This name was received by dahlias in honor of the student of the legendary K. Linnaeus, the Finnish scientist A. Dahl. The plant received its national name, despite numerous legends about the famous orders, in honor of another outstanding representative of the botanist - I. Georgi. Dahlias are part of the Compositae family.
All over the world, dahlias are considered special and irreplaceable plants. In the West, especially in American landscape design, they have become a symbol of late summer: August is expected and welcomed as the season of dahlias. In the East, dahlias are almost mythical plants. It is not for nothing that dahlias have become the symbol of the emperor of Japan and one of the most important flowers in the cultural tradition of China. You can endlessly list the myths, legends, and titles of dahlias: this plant has been included in the list of "golden classics" for several centuries, although the history of its cultivation still cannot be compared with peonies.
Dahlias belong to the class of tuberous perennials. They are durable, powerful, flowering plants. The roots of dahlias are often called rhizomes - tuberous thickened, fleshy, juicy, rather fragile, they differ in shape from the roots of other tuberous plants and are easily recognizable against the background of other crops.
Plants produce straight, strong, hollow stems, the height of which depends on the characteristics of the variety and ranges from a modest 15 cm to more than 2.5 m. Shoots are both rough-pubescent and smooth, branching quite well, providing a lush bush shape. Aboveground parts of dahlias die off annually.
Dahlia leaves are quite variable, but always opposite, in pairs. They are rarely whole, most often they are rather large three or twice pinnate leaves from 10-14 to 30-40 cm long. Their large-toothed edge is characteristic of most varieties. Leaf pubescence in different varieties is different, as well as the shades of their color. The dark green herbaceous color of the dahlia leaves is as common as medium green shades; in some varieties, the leaves are lighter and brighter, in others they are almost emerald or bluish. There are also some dahlias that boast purple hues.
By the structure of the inflorescences, dahlias are ranked among the typical baskets, but their shape in most cases does not resemble the reference "chamomile". The inflorescences are surrounded by a very beautiful, multi-row, cupped wrapper with lanceolate green leaves growing together at the base. The middle flowers of all wild dahlias are tubular, and the marginal flowers are reed; in garden varieties, some or all of the tubular flowers are transformed into reed flowers, which allows them to look more doubled.
But only such a description of the entire variety of flowering of these plants cannot be covered. Reed flowers of dahlias can take on a wide variety of shapes, not to mention differences in size and color, which provides a very abundant variety of simple, semi-double and double inflorescences - from classic to resembling balls, pompons, peonies, asters, anemones and even cactus flowers.
The color palette of tubular flowers is limited to a yellow-red-brown range. Reed petals can be painted in a variety of tones - from white to pink, lilac, red, blue, lilac to much rarer and warmer colors of the yellow-brown spectrum.
All shades presented in the dahlia color can be classified as autumn. It is among them that you can find the perfect kraplaki and cherry, beetroot and burgundy, scarlet and crimson-fiery, gold and sunny yellow, brick and ocher, and, of course, all shades of lilac - from lavender to lilac-pink. Variations of watercolor color transitions, contrasting spots, two-tone combinations only add richness to the color palette of this amazing tuberous plant.
The scent of dahlia is rarely praised. Specific, bitter and so autumnal, it is not inherent in all varieties. Delicate and spicy, the scent of dahlia is more felt in bouquets than in the garden.
After flowering, the achenes of the fruit are tied. They hide up to 140 seeds, in large dahlias they look good in the garden, but usually in regions with severe winters it is impossible to wait for the seeds to ripen because of the digging of these plants.
Despite the fact that more than forty plant species are distinguished in the Dahlia genus, wild or species dahlia are not used in garden culture. Plants that can be found in nature in the mountains of Central America are far from the spectacular and diverse garden dahlias that we are used to.
In the garden culture, only a hybrid is used, isolated in a separate species - a variable dahlia, or a cultural dahlia (the names of varietal dahlias are now simply denoted by a generic name, occasionally - Dahlia Hybrids or Dahlia Dahlia Cultivars, although in some catalogs under a botanical name you can find outdated Dahlia variabilis, Dahlia cultorum, Dahlia x cultonim, Dahlia x hybridum).
The main international classification of dahlias is quite simple, in contrast to the choice of plants, the number of varieties of which has long exceeded 15 thousand. It takes into account the main characteristics of flowering - the structure of the inflorescence, or rather the shape of the reed flowers and the degree of doubleness of the inflorescences.
On the basis of the international classification, 14 groups of dahlias are distinguished:
- Single-row dahlias (international designation - Sin, Single-flowered dahlias) are modest varieties with simple inflorescences, in which reed flowers are located in one or two rows around the outer circumference, and the entire center and basket are occupied by tubular flowers.
- Anemone dahlias (international designation - Anem, Anemone-flowered dahlias) are semi-double dahlias, whose inflorescences are shaped like anemones. One or two rows of large oval reed flowers surround a lush center of long tubular flowers in the center.
- Collar varieties of dahlias (international designation - Col, Collerette dahlias) are varieties with two rows of reed flowers, consisting of a wide, large-petal outer and narrow, differing in color or twisted shape, an inner circle that seems to enclose the center of tubular flowers.
- Nymphaeic cultivars (international designation - WL, Waterlily dahlia) are terry varieties of dahlias whose flower shape resembles lotuses or water lilies due to oval, partially concave petals arranged in separate closed circles.
- Decorative dahlias (international designation - D, Decorative dahlias) - all varieties with numerous, arranged concentric circles, pointed, bent or concave very wide petals in a flat or nearly flat inflorescence.
- Spherical varieties (international designation - Ba, Ball dahlias) - varieties with almost perfectly spherical or hemispherical inflorescences formed by numerous, rolled in the lower part into a tube, reed flowers rounded at the top. The diameter of the inflorescences is up to 20 cm.
- Pompon dahlias (international designation - Pom, Pompon dahlias) are small-flowered, only up to 7 cm in diameter, the inflorescences are distinguished by an ideal spherical shape, concentric arrangement of oval petals rolled at the ends into a tube.
- Cactus dahlias (international designation - C, Cactus dahlias) are varieties with reed petals rolled into a tube half or more in length. In domestic classifications, straight cactus varieties with petals rolled up to their full length and chrysanthemum-like cactus varieties with petals curved, curving arcs are distinguished separately.
- Semi-cactus cultivars (international designation - Sc, Semi cactus dahlias) - differ from cactus cultivars by the presence of only slightly curled petals at the edges (no more than half the length).
- Mixed (unspecified) varieties of dahlias (international designation - Misc, Miscellaneous dahlias) are varieties that cannot be classified according to their characteristics into any of the other groups of dahlias.
- The fringed group of varieties (international designation - Fim, Fimbriated dahlias) - varieties with the edges of the tongue petals split into teeth, due to which the effect of fluffiness or graceful lace is created.
- Star -shaped or single orchid varieties (international designation - SinO, Single Orchid (Star) dahlias) are simple non-double dahlias with one row of reed flowers, evenly distributed and partially twisted.
- Double or double orchid dahlias (international designation - DblO, Double Orchid dahlias) are double varieties of orchid dahlias, in which the center is not visible under the narrow-lanceolate reed flowers twisted outward or inward.
- Peony-flowered dahlias (international designation - P, Peony-flowered dahlias) are beautiful and large semi-double dahlias, whose flowers consist of 3–4 rows of wide reed petals around a disc of tubular flowers. The inflorescences are flat, elegant.
The name of the group is most often indicated along with the name of the variety. In both our and Western catalogs, such marking makes it easy to navigate the characteristics of the variety.
Domestic classifications are simplified. They divide dahlias either into 12 classes or into 10 groups, excluding fringed and orchid varieties from the classification and mixing the groups with each other in order. Using the international official classification is easier.
Sometimes, outside the official classifications, two more groups of dahlias are considered - lilliputians (minion, or dwarf dahlias) and annuals, or Sown dahlias. They differ in agricultural technology and their different character. Annual dahlias are grown from seeds, they are the kings of unpretentious seasonal accents, are widely used in urban landscaping and, if necessary, create colorful bright spots, abandoning complex ensembles. They are irreplaceable in their own way. Lilliputians are dahlia varieties bred specifically for growing in pot and container forms. They are small, only up to 30 cm in height, varieties with various colors and miniature inflorescences up to 2.5 cm in diameter.
Other classifications of dahlia
For the convenience of selecting dahlias, they are also divided according to other criteria, creating additional classifications:
By plant height:
- dwarf (up to 60 cm);
- low (from 60 to 80 cm);
- medium-sized (from 80 cm to 120 cm);
- high (from 1 m to 1.5 m);
- giant (from 1.5 m in height).
By inflorescence size
- miniature - less than 10 cm in diameter;
- small - from 10 to 15 cm in diameter;
- medium - from 15 to 20 cm in diameter;
- large - from 20 to 25 cm in diameter;
- giant - dahlias with inflorescences from 25 cm in diameter.
By the degree of terry:
- white and cream dahlias;
- yellow varieties;
- orange varieties;
- bronze dahlias;
- fiery or orange-red varieties;
- red varieties;
- dark red varieties with warm shades;
- pink varieties;
- raspberry or dark pink dahlias;
- lilac-lilac dahlias;
- purple-violet and burgundy dahlias (dark with cold shades);
- multicolored, with watercolor transitions and uneven or variegated color;
- two-tone with contrasting tips;
- variegated with spots and specks.
Using dahlias in garden design
For all countries with harsh winters, including the middle lane, dahlias are exclusively seasonal plants. They do not hibernate in open ground and need annual storage outside the soil. But this does not limit the scope of their use at all. The magnificent variety of dahlias allows them to be incorporated into almost any composition.
There are no stylistic restrictions on the use of dahlias in the garden. They are suitable for country style, romance, regular trends, modern trends and even modern. There is only one limitation - the need to carefully calculate the color gamut of the ensembles. Dahlias are good not in colorful, sharp combinations, but in the selection of harmonious color pairs.
Dahlias can be used as a solo plant, in monogroups, in any group mixed plantings. This plant is planted in combination with perennials and other seasonal accents, introduced into groups with ornamental shrubs and trees, and used to fill empty spaces. Dahlias are also irreplaceable as a temporary camouflage for communications and buildings.
Dahlias look great in mixed mixborders when placed as seasonal accents and introduced into summer and digging sites. But still, dahlias are often planted in classic rabatkas, groups, arrays, free compositions. A single dahlia flower garden or a spot on the lawn is a garden classic.
Large and abundant varieties can be placed in separate bushes. But the most interesting effects are provided by mixing varieties with different heights, colors, shapes of inflorescences. For compositions with dahlias, a strict ranking from undersized to medium and high varieties must be observed.
Low-growing varieties are associated with border planting, colorful ribbons near paths or on narrow strips of soil. But both medium and tall varieties of dahlias can be used to create masking or dividing lines.
Many undersized dahlia varieties are great for potting. Even medium-sized and tall cultivars can be planted in large pots and pots, using to decorate a terrace or recreation area, to highlight the path and at the entrance to the house. Dahlias require deep and spacious containers. Caring for them is no different from growing any other potted tuberous. With the exception, perhaps, of great opportunities to change the timing of flowering: planting for distillation, an early start allow you to decorate gardens in bloom with dahlias even in late spring, stretching the season of your beloved autumn queen for the entire garden year.
Dahlias are a valuable cut crop. Gorgeous, most often terry varieties are constant participants in autumn bouquets. The main criterion for a variety for cutting is the length and strength of the peduncles. Cut dahlias last for a long time, but for this, the flowers must be cut during their full blooming and in the early morning.
Dahlias are great with any plants - both perennial and seasonal - provided they love the same conditions: sunny, warm areas and loose nutritious soil.
Cannes, gladioli and montbrecia are wonderful partners for dahlias - they are related to them in terms of growth and agricultural technology. The combination of dahlias with gladioli is one of the canonical garden duos.
From annual plants, marigolds, and kosmeya, and lavatera, and scented tobacco, and zinnias, and pelargoniums, as well as calendula, mallow with their tall candles of inflorescences, are suitable partners for dahlias. The autumn charm of dahlias can be emphasized with the help of asters, but you need to be careful: too similar inflorescences can present asters in an unfavorable light; when choosing partners, it is better to focus on the maximum difference in the structure of inflorescences.
Large-leaved horticultural crops perfectly emphasize the beauty of the plant - from birch sap and buzulnik to decorative quinoa and castor bean. Among herbaceous perennials, phlox, daylilies, goldenrod, yarrow, helenium, monarda, veronica, sage, delphinium, sedum, perennial asters, ornamental bows, crocosmia, lychnis, coreopsis, rudbeckia, geese, millet, miscanthus are considered the best partners for dahlias.
With the help of dahlias, you can add autumn accents to groups with barberries, maples, tree trees, rose hips. Enlivening large ensembles and playing the role of "padding" for decorative giants, dahlias, as it were, highlight the main plants and give a new sound to their beauty in the second half of the summer season.