dwlogo.gif (8261 bytes) THE GROWING WORLD OF DAHLIAS

Back ] Home ] Up ]

horizontal rule

Home ] Up ]



The constant development of the flower continues with breeders finding new characteristics to work on.

Ivor Kitchener has spent a few years working on collerettes and this year has found some types that were grown up to the mid 1900ís but fell out of favour with growers and gradually disappeared. Ivorís breeding program has generated more of these older types, multi-layered or double layered collerettes. They will be available from the National Collection soon6, so the opportunity will exist for other raisers to use these characteristics in their gene pool to further enhance these types, or generate some more unusual blooms. Three of Ivorís new double layered varieties are pictured on the Collerette page.

In my own attempts to develop fimbriated varieties, I have now had a few where the end of the petal is serrated, giving an overall bloom appearance similar to a carnation. In Holland, similar varieties have also appeared, but with bigger blooms than my own. The blooms provide a fascinating deviation from the more normal forms of the flower and are set to provide garden flowers with their own beauty.

Carnation Flowered dahlia


It had always been thought that dahlias would have no scent although several people had reported that they had found a variety with a scent.  Wayne Holland of British Columbia took the bul by the horns and did some work to try to produce a scented bloom.  He eventually succeeded with an open centred variety which had scnted pollen as the disk florets opened.  The variety was called Hy Scent and this has since been used to generate other scented flowers.  Les Jackson of Carlisle has produced he first known scented collerette he has called Hillcrest Fragrant, pictured on the Collerette page.  Hopefully more will follow and maybe some that are double flowered.

Tom McLelland has devote several years to the breeding of true miniature cactus and semi-cactus varieties and has a good number of excellent varieties to his name. A by-product of the breeding however is the development of spoon shaped petals (as found in some Chrysanthemum varieties. Unfortunately he has been unable to take it as far as he would like because it would impact his time and ability to continue the miniature work. I have included Tomís notes on this breeding work and make a plea for someone to try to find the time and space to continue this development.  If you would be prepared to continue this work, please send a message to me and I will put you in contact with Tom.


Spoon Petals in Dahlias
T. McLelland - 21/11/2005

Amongst the seedlings set out in the garden in 1997 one, a seedling from an Australian variety, FAIRY QUEEN, produced flowers containing a substantial number of petals with "spoon" formation. Pollen parent was not known. The form is well known in chrysanthemums and in Osteospermums but it was the first time I had seen it in a dahlia. Unfortunately despite my best efforts the tuber did not survive to propagate the following year and that seemed to be the end of that.

In correspondence Swami Vinayananda indicated that he too had seen such form as a sport but it had not survived. Also in the Indian Dahlia Society Annual for 1997 Dr. P.K. Das mentions spoon form in the context of two sports, one from KELVIN GD and one from KELVIN ROSE GD but neither is known to have survived.

But life is full of surprises. In season 2000 six seedlings appeared with the same condition but only on a relatively small number of petals (from 5% of the outermost petals to about 15% in an odd bloom. All were grown from seed obtained at random from WESTON DOVE. At the time I did have a concern that the effect might have been due to chemical imbalance since the plot had been quite heavily fertilised before planting out. I mentioned this to Dr. Gareth Rowlands who was of the opinion that the effect was more probably due to genetic change and this appears to be confirmed with later results. Grown on in 2001 in a block to hopefully achieve cross-pollination but also assisted by hand when opportunity allowed the rather haphazard approach produced eighteen seeds. Of these twelve germinated and were grown on in 2002.

Only one plant with yellow flowers exhibited the effect on a small number of petals. This was retained as S02/02. Again a random seedling from Weston Sunup appeared with petals somewhat similar to anemone centred dahlias but with some spoon petals on the outer florets. This has been retained as seedling SI5/02. No seed was collected in 2002.

Only S02/02 and S 15/02 were grown again in 2003. Yet again in the seedling bed there appeared two seedlings exhibiting the spoon characteristic; one, white in colour, had a few on the outer petals and the other, yellow, initially across the whole flower and later more variable but not less than 50% of the total florets. The seed parent was WESTON DOVE. Disaster struck when all photographs were lost due to camera failure and yet again no seed was obtained. In storage S02/02 was lost. The others, S 15/02, SO 1/03 and S02/03 were all grown together, in a block, in 2004. S02/03 appeared virused and was destroyed. From the other two six seeds were obtained.

Of the six seeds obtained only three were successfully germinated in 2005 and these were grown together with the two parents. Two of the seedlings were nondescript singles and discarded. The other was fully double, orangy pink in colour with about 15% of petals showing the spoon form. Also in the seedling bed, yet again with WESTON DOVE as seed parent, two plants appeared with spoon form on the outer petals and have been retained hopefully to be grown with the others in 2006. To add to this will be what can be germinated from twelve seeds obtained from S01/03.

Thus far my approach has been somewhat casual and results are far removed from what we regard as exhibition standard. I am not aware if results like these have been obtained by others or indeed even if the form exists elsewhere. One can only follow its progress to find what the possibilities are and perhaps others with an interest in the flower may be persuaded to further its development. It will require some concentrated effort over time to develop the form to be of interest to the public. But who has the time and energy? The alternative is to consign it to the compost heap.


First Indications - Year 2000






Last updated February 26, 2012

For problems or questions regarding this web contact [ProjectEmail].
dwlogo.gif (8261 bytes)     Last updated: February 26, 2012.