25 October 2016

Dahlia Blues

Feb 16; how long will it take the blue dahlia to bloom???

About 18 or 19 months ago, I bought a box of "blue" dahlia tubers, knowing full well there is no such thing. I've become somewhat of a dahlia nut, and if it had only a fractal fraction of blue in certain light, that would be good enough for me. I expected the flowers might be on the lavender end of the spectrum; nothing wrong with that.

The blue dahlia emerges!

I planted it indoors in a pot and began documenting the growth about a month later because I thought it would make a great Wordless Wednesday to show the gorgeous "blue" blooms from start to finish.

Halfway through March

Dahlias can be stubborn little snots at 6,000 feet in elevation, especially when kept indoors. It never bloomed.

Reach for the Sky!

I kept it alive through the winter, then transplanted it and four new tubers to my garden well into June. I wanted to make sure they didn't get an overnight freeze. Dahlias don't do so well in the cold. I've never had outdoor dahlias make it through our harsh and brutal winters.

I thought I might get a head start on the "blue" dahlia because it was already nearly two feet tall when I put it outside. Unfortunately, it let me know it didn't like the dramatic change. I should have kept it on the porch, close to the house, for a few days, then gradually moved it out into the soil so it could adapt. It lost all its leaves in about two days, and I thought it was dead.

It began sprouting new leaves about the same time the other dahlias began sprouting. So I thought I might still get an early dahlia. It was so much taller than the other four plants!

All summer long, I paid dutiful attention to my dahlias, hoping they would be sporting gorgeous pink, purple, "blue" and multi-color flowers by the time we left for Washington State in September. Nope. The transplanted plant had three buds before we left. One of the new plants died before the end of July. One got too much shade, I think, from nearby towering Shasta daisies and is still growing strong to this day, but stands only about 12 inches high. No buds. Not a single one.

The remaining two new dahlias seemed to be healthy but didn't have any buds until we got back from the Deception Pass Classic, where I saw some really gorgeous dahlias. The Pacific Northwest has always displayed the most beautiful hydrangeas, fireweed and dahlias when we visit.

When we returned to Colorado, we learned we'd had a couple of chilly nights. Not freezing, just cold enough to turn the "blue" buds black. Once again, I thought the plant was dead. But it popped back and was sporting three brand new buds by the time we had what we expected to be our first freeze of the season in the beginning of October. The other two tall dahlias both had buds, too, and they were growing at a much faster rate than the "blue" buds! One bud was more than an inch across! We were going to have a true dinnerplate-size dahlia! I had no clue what color any of the flowers would be, and I was SO excited for those blossom babies!

We covered the dahlias (and the tomatoes) with T-shirts the night we expected our first hard freeze. Thankfully, the temperature dropped to only 40 that night, and the dahlia buds (and tomatoes) were fine!

We began a nightly cheering session for them, telling them we didn't know how many warms nights they could hold out. We verbally encouraged them every single day to open while they still had time!

They didn't listen.

Last Tuesday night, The low was expected to drop down to 24 degrees. YIKES! We covered the dahlias (and the tomatoes) again with MS-150 T-shirts from through the years. It was about time some of those old shirts got worn! We have quite a collection of them by now! I'm hoping to turn a bunch of them into a quilt one day. But for right now, they were going to protect my cold-shy plants. The overnight low for the rest of the week wasn't supposed to go under 40, so we just had to get them through that one night.

It didn't work. Boohoo! The tomatoes made it through the night, and I had a terrific fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella salad the next day. But the dahlias were black by the time I came home from work. They were gone. Done for the season.

I wanted to cry. I didn't even get to see what color they would have been. The Lizard suggested I grab a frozen blossom from each plant and bring them inside to put in a vase.

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough body left to the stems to give them nourishment. I went ahead and clipped the largest bud and one from the "blue" dahlia, then took them inside. The Lizard suggested I cut them open to see what color they would have been.

Green. That's all they were inside. Just green. Babies that didn't get to grow up and become bursts of petal sunshine.

Thankfully, the cosmos, marigolds, gerbera daisies and delphiniums laughed at the cold. They're still making me very, very happy every single morning.

My outdoor lavender made it through the deep freeze, and my brand new indoor lavender is helping us sleep a little better at night. All three varieties are gorgeous and smell even better than they look. We are so incredibly lucky to have an extra month of garden season this year!

Even though outside plants think it's still summer, a few particular inside plants know what time of year it really is, and boy, are they getting ready to put on a show!


  1. They sure wanted to grow as they kept coming back, just couldn't get into blossom mode before the cold kicked in there at the end.

  2. Since your outdoor growing season is tricky, just keep them inside as houseplants in a bright, sunny location. Their bloom time might be off, so what! Dig them up (if they haven't turned to mush from the frost) & repot & bring indoors. =>/<=


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