Most varieties will need support, as they can produce a great deal of heavy growth by season’s end. A stout stake knocked in alongside the tuber at planting time will be hidden as foliage develops yet provide an anchor to which individual stems can be tied with twine.
There are no rules about what qualifies as an heirloom dahlia. If a variety has been around for a long time, it would seem to qualify. Heirloom cultivars range from single-flowered types including ‘Union Jack’ in red and white stripes (1882) and partially double varieties including the scarlet ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ (1927) to fully double varieties in many styles.
There are also some fine modern dahlias in the old heirloom style. At 2 to 3 feet tall, selections in the Fordhook Garden Mix feature single and semidouble flowers in rose purple, salmon orange, scarlet, and yellow above bronze or dark green foliage. And perfect for a small yard or in containers, the Mystic Series comes in eight colors, each with dark foliage. At about half the height of most varieties, they are much more manageable in a small space than so many dahlias.
Photo: Rob Cardillo