The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Nichols Hall will look like the inside of a firecracker when some 2,000 flowers ranging in size from a Frisbee to a plum are placed on competition tables for the 2017 National Dahlia Show September 9 and 10.
Dahlias are known for producing huge flowers, but for the first time at the national competition level there will be a section of “micro dahlias” also vying for recognition. These diminutive pompons come in various forms, all less than 2 inches in diameter, but the competition is just as fierce, and the joy of winning just as huge, as with the extra-jumbo blooms.
“Since this is the national show, we expect there will be roughly triple the number of blooms that are typically displayed at the annual Central States show,” said George Koons of Glencoe, a spokesman for the Central States Dahlia Society.
The society recently surveyed members to ask what makes dahlias so special. This is what they said:
- Dahlias come in a wide range of sizes – from 2 to 12-inches. They can grow in gardens, containers, and flower boxes by choosing appropriate size
- Range of color – virtually all colors but blue. They come in solid, bi-color, and variegated types
- Easy to grow – some say, “If you can grow a tomato, you can grow a dahlia”
- Relatively inexpensive – while tubers for the newest varieties can cost $25, hundreds of old favorites can be had for between $5 and $10 per tuber. Considering that you could get maybe 10 blooms per plant, it is a very inexpensive way to decorate your house
- Prolific bloomers – unlike many other types of flowers, the more you cut dahlia blooms, the more blooming you encourage. Your house can constantly have a vase on display
- Long growing season – from July to first frost. Dahlias are in your garden when most other plants are past their peak
“Of these, I personally think that the last is the strongest argument for having dahlias in your garden,” said Koons. “Who wouldn’t like having beautiful flowers in their house for three or four months of the year at a minimal cost and with relatively little effort?”
Want to learn more about dahlias around the North Shore? Click here to read “The Flowers Men Grow”, published on DailyNorthShore in April 2017.
The 2017 National Dahlia Show will take place September 9 and 10 from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Chicago Botanic Garden.