The blank dahlia


That title is just a come-on to lure visitors here when they’re actually looking for information on the famous and kinky “Black Dahlia” murder. Sorry about that! You can read all about that here:

Meantime, though, can the gardeners among us discuss dahlias? Specifically, why I don’t have any luck with dahlias? You would think anything that grows from a tuber would be super-easy; I mean, like a bulb, the whole plant is already there. All you do is add water and sunlight. But dahlias don’t seem to like me at all.

I like dahlias. They’re pretty. I like the colors, and the different shapes of the flowers. I especially like one called ‘Rigoletto’ that has a ruffly white collar. But in general, I like them all. Except for the ones my prior next-door neighbors used to grow, that were buff-brown, with flowers the size of dinner plates. They were just weird.

The company I do test-gardening for, Proven Winners, sent me a dahlia to trial two summers ago. At the end of the summer, I didn’t have much to report about it, since it never bloomed for me–not even a single blossom. Oh, the plant got nice and bushy and green, but not so much as a bud. Fool that I am, I overwintered it anyway, on a windowsill. This past spring, I set it outside again on the patio. I faithfully tended to it all summer long. And once again, not one single flower.

Now the time has come to decide: Bring it in for another winter, or no? You know what? I think I’ll just compost the damned thing. And I’m not bringing in my frost-blighted daturas, either. I’m old enough by now that I don’t have to baby bad plants along just because I feel responsible for them. If they can’t produce more than one flower a year–let alone none at all–then into the bin with ’em.

Maybe all my sorry-looking plants need is a little tough love. I’ll know if after this purging, the others start snapping into shape!

Photo of Dahlia ‘Mystic Dreamer’ hybrid courtesy of Proven Winners®,



  1. Marcia said,

    November 8, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I would suggest planting it in the ground and leaving it to the elements. My two come up every year with lots of flowers.

    • mshingston said,

      November 9, 2009 at 8:31 pm

      You are such a showoff! But it’s worth a try …

      • Marcia said,

        November 9, 2009 at 9:34 pm

        I was just surprised that I was actually growing a flower that you like!

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