"The dahlias first duty in life is to flaunt and swagger." Gertrude Jekyll
I think it's important to get this right from the start - we LOVE dahlias!
Experts believe that all modern dahlia hybrids - an astonishing 59,000-plus varieties at last count - are derived from only two or three species that made their way from the high plateaus of Mexico and Guatemala to Spain in 1789 and then spread to other parts of Europe in the early 1800s. The Spanish explorer, Hernan Cortes, thought that because the dahlia tubers were a staple food of the Aztec civilizations, they may provide a viable foodstuff for Europeans. Evidently, the Europeans didn't like eating the tubers, but they sure liked the flowers. The complicated genetics of dahlias, which have 64 chromosomes (far more than most plants), provide seemingly infinite variation, so plant breeders throughout Europe have had a field day ever since, hybridizing many thousands of unique varieties.
The American Dahlia Society's classification system identifies 19 flower forms, nine sizes (from less than 2 inches to more than 10) and 15 colors (no blue or black). Saturated colors, extraordinary shapes and hypnotic symmetry are only part of what make dahlias remarkable. They're also resilient when cut, lasting 5 to 7 days when the vase water is changed frequently. At Detroit Abloom, we're developing a collection of dahlias with blossoms that lend themselves well to making bouquets and some that also attract and feed pollinating insects. In 2016, we started by cultivating 43 dahlia varieties and sold the tubers of 10 types. This 2017 season we will cultivate 80-100 dahlia varieties and sell the tubers of at least 20 types.
Our Dahlia Boarding Service - As we mentioned before, we have built a specially-designed root cellar to overwinter our growing collection of dahlia tubers and yours. If you are like many gardeners who may not want to go through the trouble of over-wintering your dahlia tubers, consider letting us over-winter them for you. All you have to do is dig them out of the ground at the right time (please see information below), identify and label them, and arrange to bring them to our house. In exchange for us dividing them, making a written assessment of their condition for you, preparing them for storage and caring for them over the winter, instead of asking for money, we'd like to barter with you.
We propose that the dahlias that survive to the spring be divided and that we both get some of them. We would also be agreeable to tuber trades. In this way, the both of us will be able to increase the variety of our growing collections of dahlias.