Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plant profile: Tree Dahlia

Something is happening in the garden right now and you need to see it: our Tree Dahlia is flowering! Get out there right now and take it in: it will soon be over and the plant will be cut back to the ground until next year.

During the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the mountain regions of Mexico and Guatemala. They brought with them botanists, who cataloged the local plant life when they weren't busy conquering the local Aztec tribes. With hollow canes, the Tree Dahlia was often used for hauling water or as an actual source of water to Aztec hunters: the Aztec name for the Tree Dahlia was "Acocotli" or water-cane. Today the Dahlia is the national flower of Mexico.

Latin name: Dahlia imperialis ("DAH-lee-ah im-peer-ee-AH-liss")
Common name: Tree Dahlia.
Originally from: Central America.
Blooms: 4 to 6 inches across, and lavender or white. Ours is lavender.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Average water.
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed.

This is not your ordinary Dahlia. If you are expecting brightly colored pom-poms of petals in a 1-2' high plant, think again - this is your Dahlia on steroids!

Growing up to 20' high in a single year, the Tree Dahlia is drama on a stick. Literally - a stick. We bought a dry stick about 12" long from the Berkeley Arboretum back in mid-April, planted it in the ground and now it's about 12' tall! (Photo above with 6' tall Matt for scale) Our Tree Dahlia is absolutely covered in flowers: a pretty good crop for it's first year.

The only problem with this shocking display of herbacious brawn is that it just might flower right before it gets blown down by a winter storm. Or it might not! Many people give up on Tree Dahlia as they never get to see the flowers bloom, but ours has made it this year and you can't miss it.

Due to it's amazing growth, high failure rate, and the massive hole it leaves in your border when you cut it back, this plant is not seen for sale very often. However, we have room for spectacular feats of foliar whimsy here at P. Garden - enjoy! We will have cuttings available when the time comes, and if you'd like some please let me know.


  1. Thanks! Let me know if I can send you a cutting: you can have your own! :)


Spammy comments will be deleted! Don't bother posting spam links - we won't approve them.

page counter
Free Hit Counter