Are you inexorably drawn to the gardening department of a big box store when you go in to buy light bulbs? I am. Admit it, you are too. Especially after the winter we’ve had. Back in early March, I needed to get an injection of growing things. And, while Home Depot’s garden section doesn’t always represent fine gardening and well-tended plants, sometimes there is a bargain or or a lucky find.
This time my eye lit on a mixed bag of mystery dahlias. The so-called ‘Sunset Mix’ was a gorgeous array of colours from wine to pink, and my head immediately swam with images of cut-flower bunches in late summer. Only $12.95 a bag for five different dahlia tubers? How could I resist?
Of course, I did pause and think, hmmmm, they are mystery dahlias. As I’m becoming a bit of a dahlia nut, I do want to know which dahlia variety I’m growing. Buying a bag of unnamed tubers doesn’t allow that.
But I thought hey, I can google wine-coloured dahlias etc, and identify each one of them. I tried doing that. Do you know how many different kinds of dahlias there are in the world? Zillions. Plus, there are so many dahlia pictures that have no ID AT ALL. Damn you, Pinterest. (Shakes fist)
Then I thought, hey, a real company actually produces these dahlias. Surely they would know what varieties they’re selling. OK it’s a generic mixed bag of dahlias from a big box store, who knows whether the company is going to give me the information? Or even knows the information? Maybe the mixed bag is just a way of throwing any old tubers in there willy nilly.
But I went to my plant ID cardboard, found the manufacturer, Googled contact info, and I sent off an email, not really expecting a result. But, lo and behold, the dahlia seller, who is based in New Jersey, got back to me pretty promptly. Thanks, Frank, from BulbsAreEasy.com
I had identified the colours and sent the picture that was on the bag, and they identified by variety every single one. I was impressed.
1. Dark purple –> Le Baron Dahlia
2. Light pinkish yellow –>Noordwijks Glorie Dahlia
3. Two tone red with whitish edge –>Akita Dahlia
4. A salmony one with longer petals –> Bodacious Dahlia
5. A deep pink –> Corazon Dahlia
But it also made me wonder, how many gardeners are happy planting five unnamed dahlias called ‘Sunset Mix’? I wanted to know what was in the mix, don’t most people? Message to growers: Please add the names of the varieties on the package, if you know what they are. It doesn’t cost any extra on the packaging.
Anyhow, I got the tubers out of the bag ASAP, and put them in shallow recycled plastic food trays using a bit of Pro Mix. I didn’t have enough to plant them deeply, but I find just getting the tubers partially submerged and watered is enough to give them a good start. I got this tip from cut-flower grower Sarah Nixon, of My Luscious Backyard. (I’m excited, by the way, to be registered for a Dahlia Workshop with Sarah next week! Will tell you all about that later.)
Tip: Never leave your dahlia bulbs to languish in the bags you bought them in!!
A couple weeks later, my dahlia tubers are starting to sprout. I won’t know which is which till I see my first blooms. But hopefully I will find one or two or even 5 new favourite dahlias this summer, all named with tags.