Dahlias, especially small flowered kinds, have great possibilities as border plants. They may be used in masses or planted in combination with annuals and perennials. Most of the small Dahlias are early and profuse bloomers, starting to flower in July and continuing right through till frost.
Dahlias in combination with other flowers should be planted as early as the ground is warm enough (about May 1 to 10 around New York City and vicinity, if blooms by July are desired; later plantings come into bloom rapidly).
If roots are used they should be planted from 4 to 6 inches deep, depending on the nature of the soil. The holes should be dug at least 8 inches deep and a foot in diameter, and then some of the pulverized soil should be put back in the hole, so as to assure a well prepared bed in which to plant the root. The root should be planted in a horizontal position with the sprout or eye on top, and just barely covered with soil. As the sprout grows, pull soil around the young plant until the surface is level. Plant 2 or 3 feet apart, depending on the amount of space you have in the border, keeping in mind that you want to plant other flowers around and in between them.
Small Dahlias need little care after planting, except to water and cut off the old .blooms. In some gardens it will be necessary to spray with a material having a pyrethrum or nicotine base, which can be purchased at any seed store for a few cents. This will keep insects under control.
In selecting varieties, choose only dwarf growing varieties which will not need supporting stakes. These dwarf Dahlias are more suitable to the purpose at hand as they bloom well and are less care than taller sorts, keeping in mind that we are growing Dahlias for garden display rather than for show exhibition.
Types which I would especially recommend include most of the small single Dahlias, the orchid-flowering Dahlias, pompons, miniatures, Unwin’s Dwarf Hybrids and a rather new type which is known as the Dwarf Dahlia and will be found listed as such in some of the Dahlia and seed cataloges.
Unwin’s Dwarf Hybrids are grown from seed which are listed just this way in seed cataloges. This sort of Dahlia costs less than would plants or roots of named varieties. These Hybrids are small, open centered Dahlias in shades of red, yellow and orange. You never know just what you will get when you plant Dahlia seeds, but this type can be depended on for small flowers in assorted colors on dwarf plants. The seed should be planted early inside and transplanted to the permanent location after all danger of frost is over, just as with tomato plants.
Of the small single Dahlias, I would recommend the following as being dependable and suitable to this purpose; Snow Princess, Chancellor, Merki, Prince of Bulgaria, Doe and Thrill.
Most of the orchid-flowering Dahlias will fit in very well. Dahliadel Twinkle and Dahliadel Whisper, Lone Star and Ivory Gem are all good.
In pompons, many varieties are cataloged but I feel that the following will be very good for our particular purpose: Atom, Aimee, Betty Ann, Joe Fette, Reginald, Betty Malone, and Sherry. This will give a good color range, and these varieties are about as dwarf growing as any of this type.
There are hundreds of miniature Dahlias which are ideal for the border, either alone or planted in with other flowers. Some which I recommend are as follows: Buckeye Baby, Baby Royal, Pink Daisy, Pink Lassie, Teddy Bear, Andries Orange, Little Diamond, Ritzy, Nesthakehen, Joyce Ann, Red Head, Rose Beauty, Little Miss Prim, and Red Robin.
The Dwarf Dahlias is ideal for border planting, and because they run a little larger than the others mentioned above some people may prefer them. The flowers average 4 inches or more in diameter in good soil and will be a mass of color from the time they start blooming until frost. These Dahlias are very dwarf in growth, most of the plants being about 18 inches tall. A good assortment in this type would be: Easter Greetings, Elsie, Fred Springer (larger than the others), Gertrude, Kate, Maria, Rosalie, Ursula, Eleanor and Gerda.
If you have never enjoyed Dahlias in your garden before because you have felt that you did not have room for them, this is your chance to get acquainted with this grand flower. You will be pleased with the mass of color you will have all during the late summer and fall, to say nothing of the many fine blooms you can cut for the house, blooms that are truly practical for home decoration.
R. W. WEBB