Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Dahlias ‘are making a comeback’

Keen gardeners who enjoy growing plants in their greenhouse will undoubtedly have considered introducing some dahlias to their space.

These plants may have been on the unfashionable side in recent times, but professional planter and garden writer Graham Rice has claimed that they are making a huge comeback right now.

Writing in an article for the Daily Telegraph across the pond in the UK, he underlined his belief that this has been one of the all-time great plant revivals – and certainly in recent memory.

He explained that their vibrant and dazzling colors have a very popular appeal – and they can look very defining on borders, or just as stunningly dramatic in a vase.

However, the expert acknowledged that some varieties – in particular the dinner plate dahlias – can be difficult to integrate with other planting combinations. For instance, if a single species such as this one blossoms with exploding 12 inch flowers, it can be very upsetting for the gardener that yearns for understated elegance.

Fergus Garrett, head gardener at the Great Dixter – the family dwelling of the late gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd – agrees that the popularity of dahlias is definitely in resurgence.

"Colour is considered cool and all of a sudden gardeners have become more adventurous," the expert commented, adding: "Single dahlias, elegant in flower and with graceful foliage, seem to be the most acceptable of all, especially to the fainthearted good-taste brigade. Single-flowered dahlias are graceful and are good blenders, integrating well into most borders, giving colour from midsummer until the first frost."

The plants should not be an issue for gardeners to get to grips with in the US – and particularly the warmer, southern states – as they are native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia.

They can be a good option for anyone who is looking for a little variety to add to the greenhouse, as there is a great deal of variety between different strains of the species.

Mr Rice picked out the single-flowered dahlias as being the ones that are particularly in vogue at the present time. He added that more and more varieties are turning up in garden centres and mail order catalogs as a result of this trend – so they are also relatively easy to obtain.

For a larger flower, the expert suggested having a look at the Happy Single Series, which can grow to anywhere between 22 inches and 28 inches in length. They are also fashionably dark – and this could be easier to integrate into the landscape or with the general look of a glasshouse.

Mystic Dreamer is also a hit in the UK right now, as it was the star at the 2008 run of the prestigious Hampton Court flower show.

"But my favourite is Twyning’s Chocolate," Mr Rice conceded, adding: "This has the same coloured flowers as chocolate cosmos but with a tiny flash of red at the base of each petal. It shows up well against the silver foliage of Hippophae rhamnoides."