By: Mary Ellen Ellis
How big are dinnerplate dahlias? The name says it all; these are dahlias that produce huge blooms of up to 12 inches (31 cm.) across. Like other dahlias, these flowers bloom consistently for weeks and add beautiful color to beds. They are also great for cutting and making stunning floral arrangements.
The dinnerplate dahlia (also spelled dinner plate) is simply a variety of dahlia that produces big, plate-sized blooms. You can find them in a range of colors and forms, and they are essentially just larger versions of the many varieties of dahlia. Dahlias are already spectacular and showy flowers, so adding dinnerplate varieties to your beds adds even more drama.
Dahlias offer a greater range of color and form than most other flower types, so if you want some dinnerplate blooms in your garden, you have a lot of options. Some examples of spectacular dinnerplate dahlia flowers include:
Dinnerplate dahlia care is just about the same as caring for any type of dahlia. Since the blooms are so large, though, staking and support may be more important with these varieties. Watch your flowers and use stakes or some other type of support if they start to lean or flop over.
Whether you’re starting from seed or transplants, don’t put your flowers outside until you are sure there will be no more frosts. To get the biggest blooms from your dinnerplate varieties, choose a sunny spot with rich soil that drains well. Soggy soil will stunt their growth. These plants grow tall, up to four feet (1 m.), so also choose a site where they won’t overshadow other plants.
Your soil for growing dahlias should be rich, but these flowers will also respond well to regular fertilizing. Use a typical flower fertilizer about twice a month. Water your dahlias if they are not getting about an inch (2.5 cm.) of rainfall per week.
Deadhead the spent blooms as they expire and you will enjoy dinnerplate dahlias from midsummer through the fall.
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Find a spot in full sun, which is 6 or more hours direct sunlight each day. They tolerate zero cold, so plant when danger of frost is past. Plant in rows, raised beds, or in areas of your garden where you have a few feet of space for the plants to spread out. They can be grown from seed or from tubers, which look sort of like sweet potatoes. Seeds are inexpensive and take more patience, but they’re a great way add dahlias to your garden at low cost.
Dahlias need good soil, so before you plant, get a soil test from your local university coop extension service (find yours here) to figure out what your soil may be lacking. The results will tell you what types of amendments you should add, such as bone meal or lime, and in what quantities. At the very least, spread about 2 to 3 inches of compost over your beds, then sprinkle a general-purpose fertilizer on top, and use a shovel or pitchfork to work into the soil.
Next, dig a hole or trench about 4 to 6 inches deep and place each tuber with its eye facing up. Each tuber looks different but generally, it has a plump body, a thinner neck, and an eye on top where the sprout will form. The eye looks like a little bump, and it’s sometimes easy for beginners to miss. Do your best, but don’t worry if you can’t figure it out! If you accidentally plant with the eyes down, your dahlia likely will sprout, though it may take a bit longer.
Many types of dahlias will get heavy and try to flop over, so place stakes in the ground early on so you won’t disturb the roots later. Use twine to tie to dahlias to the stakes every foot or so, says Benzakein.
Whether you receive your tubers in the mail or from a store, store them in a dark, cool (not freezing) spot until ready to plant. Open sealed packing boxes or plastic bags to let air circulate.
Where I garden (Zone 6 in Canada), there are two ways start tubers:
A stunningly brilliant dahlia variety, Dahlia 'Seattle' is a large-flowering Dahlia or 'Dinner Plate Dahlia' which features huge and magnificent golden yellow flowers with white tips. The impressive fully double flowers, up to 6-8 inches wide (15-20 cm), are shockingly beautiful. Dazzling could be an understatement.
Dahlias come originally from Central and South America, particularly Mexico where they are the national flower. In their homeland, their natural habitats are cool moist mountain slopes. Their flowers were prized for their beauty early on, and the Aztecs used the tubers as a food crop as well as for medicinal purposes. Botanists who boarded the ships of the Spanish conquistadores discovered the imposing flower in the 17th century. Europeans first tested them as a food crop but soon admired them for their beautiful flowers. The plant was named in honor of A. Dahl, a Swedish botanist. This scientific name became so established that a common name for dahlias never took hold.
During the nineteenth century, the dahlia began stealing the hearts of people all over the world today there are 20,000 different varieties. And every one is a descendent of one of the original species such as Dahlia rosea.