2018 ASCFG Dahlia Cut Flower Trial Report
With their luscious colors and myriad forms, dahlias are hard to resist. Our customers apparently agree, as dahlias continue to be one of today’s trendiest cut flowers. Yet choosing which cultivars to grow can be challenging as hundreds are available, most of which are destined for home gardens, and don’t have the productivity, stem length or vase life needed by commercial cut flower growers. With that in mind we established the first ASCFG Dahlia Cut Flower Trial in 2018. Thanks to the generosity of Ednie Flower Bulbs, a division of Fred C Gloeckner & Co, Inc., and Tall Grass Farm, our Trialers had eight cultivars to evaluate.
The clear favorite in the Trial was ‘Beaucon White’, which scored with beautiful, full, white flowers, a desirable vase life, and long stems. While its natural niche was wedding designs, it also worked well in bouquets. Stem length averaged a little over 20 inches, with at least one Trialer harvesting 30-inch stems. One Trialer strongly encouraged pinching the plants to produce longer stems, and another suggested providing support due to the large, heavy flowers. Bugs and bruising were issues on the white petals.
Interpreting the Trial results
The numbers reported are averages of all the respondents. Many factors will affect the success of any cultivar. Our participants grow and harvest plants using several methods. After noting the average, check the range of responses listed below each number to see how the cultivar performed at its best and its worst. If the range of responses in the ratings is narrow and high, i.e., 3-5 or 4-5, the plant was a winner for most of the respondents and is likely to do well for you. The “Repeat Again Rating” is particularly important because it indicates if the Trialer would take the time, money, and space to actually grow the cultivar again. Review the Trial results carefully. If a variety sounds interesting, but did not appear to do well, try it anyway; it may work well for you.
Written by: John M. Dole, Nathan Jahnke, Ingram F. McCall, Ben Bergmann, and Judy M. Laushman, North Carolina State University
Published by: The Cut Flowers Quarterly, Vol 31, No 1