Dahlias in the rain

August 23rd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Dahlia 'Karma Choc'

When I was hiding under my umbrella at the Mr F trials recently, as the rain fell from the sky in lumps, it wasn’t just the rudbeckias that stood out. The dahlias really shone and amongst the ninety one different dahlias being assessed were five picked from the Karma Series.

I’m growing ‘Karma Choc’ this year, from tubers left in the ground through the winter, and one of its impressive features is this. Flowering from July until the frosts, the plant is divided into two zones. The long stemmed flowers, carried on relatively unbranched stems, are all on the top half of the plant. The rich dark foliage is all on the lower part of the plant. On my other dahlias the foliage grows right up amongst the flowers making cutting more difficult.

The Karma Series was developed in Holland specifically for cutting – but that doesn’t mean they’re unsuited to growing in borders. That tendency to display the flowers above the foliage is spread across the series and ensures that the flowers show themselves off well and are not hidden.

Other features of the series are long stems with relatively few side shoots, the stems surging up through the foliage. The different varieties have also been selected for their lasting qualities, the individual flowers last unusually well in water.

Amongst the nineteen varieties in the series there’s a wide range of colours and flower shapes and Tom Stimpson, Mr F’s dahlia guru, has picked out the very best. Alongside the sultry chocolate maroon of ‘Karma Choc’, with dark chocolate centres and rich red outer petals plus dark dark foliage, the varieties being checked in the trials this year were:
‘Karma Bon Bini’, an orange and yellow cactus type.
‘Karma Fiesta’, an orange and yellow decorative type that won the visitors’ vote at RHS Wisley for the most popular dahlia.
‘Karma Lagoon’, a vivid purple-blue decorative with dark-tinted foliage.
‘Karma Prospero’, a soft lilac-pink waterlily type.
‘Karma Red Corona’, a glowing red cactus dahlia that, even in the rain, stood out from the other side of the field.

Keep the Karma dahlias in mind for next year. Apart from everything else, they look great in the rain!

Mr Fothergills dahlia trial

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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