Dahlia: Bedding dahlia
Height 30cm-1.2m (1 -4ft)
Planting distance 30-60cm (1-2ft)
Flowers mid summer until the first frost
Medium to heavy
Open sunny site
A number ofvarieties can be grown from seed for flowering the same year. Known as bedding dahlias, they are more modest cousins of the large perennial border dahlias growing from tubers. They have similar, though smaller, and vary in height from 30cm (1ft) to 1.2m (4ft). The flowers – in white, yellow, orange, scarlet, crimson and pink – appear in mid summer and continue until the first hard frost.
Use these half-hardy annuals for containers and window-boxes, in bedding schemes and for planting in the foreground of a mixed border.
The range of varieties available is increasing and changing every year. The following are some of the most popular. The majority come in mixed colours.
‘Bambino Mixed’ is a miniature variety, growing 30-45cm (12- 18in) high and carrying a profusion of double flowers. Good for pots and containers.
‘Cactus-flowered Hybrids’ have semi-double and double flowers with quilled petals. The plants reach 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high.
‘Collarette Dandy’ has single flowers with a small white or yellow collar of inner petals surrounding the central disc. The plants reach 45-60cm (18-24in) high.
‘Coltness Hybrids’, one of the most popular, is a dwarf variety reaching just 50cm (20in) high. The large single flowers are freely produced.
‘Diablo’ is similar to ‘Redskin’, but the semi-double flowers and bronze-green foliage are borne on more compact plants, 38-45cm (15-18in) tall.
‘Dwarf Amore’ bears semi and fully double flowers on bushy plants, 30cm (12in) tall and wide.
‘Mignon Silver’ has pure white flowers shading to pale yellow-green near the centre. The plants grow 38-50cm (15-20in) high.
‘Pompon Mixed’ has small ball flowers and reaches 90cm (3ft).
‘Redskin’ has large semi-double flowers and rich bronze foliage. The plants reach 50cm (20in) high. A dwarf mixture produces similar plants, 38cm (15in) tall.
‘Rigoletto’ is an early-flowering, dwarf variety, 30-50cm (12-20in) high, with double and semi-double blooms.
‘Sunburst’ bears single flowers, up to 12.5cm (5in) across, the broad overlapping petals forming circular blooms. Height about 60cm (2ft).
‘Unwin’s Dwarf Hybrids’ produce an abundance of double flowers in a particularly wide range of colours. These are long-lasting, and are carried on 45-60cm (18-24in) high plants.
Sow the seeds under glass in late winter and early spring in trays of seed compost, and keep at a temperature of 16°C (61°F). Prick off the seedlings into boxes when large enough to handle, and later into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Harden off fromon and plant out in late spring to early summer, when danger of frost is well over.
Bedding dahlias grow best in a medium to heavy soil in an open sunny position. Enrich poor soils with well-rotted manure several weeks before planting out.
Water regularly in hot weather and dead-head for continuous flowering. Staking is unnecessary.
Pests and diseases
Aphids and caterpillars may attack, and earwigs may eat the petals and leaves. Grey mould can be troublesome on flower stalks, buds and older flowers in wet summers.