Garden Photo of the Day

Dahlias in North Dakota

A harsh climate doesn't stop this gardener

My name is Kim Triebwasser, and I live in Reiles Acres, North Dakota (Zone 4B). I have always loved gardening. In our short growing season, I take great interest in growing dinner plate dahlias and other annuals that are bouquet worthy. Dahlias are my cup of tea, but I LOVE growing other unique annuals.

We definitely have a challenge with our short growing season. I start my dahlias around May 15, but it depends on the amount of rain we have then. If it’s a wet spring, I wait to plant until the end of May. (Praying for dahlia success never hurts either.) I have found success planting my dahlia tubers in a southwest-facing rock bed, protected from the North Dakota wind and crazy weather (including hail) that frequently occur. I train/protect them inside tomato cages.

The neighbors love to watch the bloom and enjoy receiving fresh cut arrangements.

Dahlias and other annuals for cut flowers making a great display for everyone to enjoy!

A beautiful way to display a selection of incredible dahlia flowers. I love the way these flowers are in a similar color scheme but how each is slightly different to make a harmonious arrangement.

Dahlias come in all sizes and shapes. The largest, sometimes called dinner plate dahlias, have truly enormous flowers!

The petals on dahlia flowers come in many shapes. The form where the individual petals are rolled into narrow quills is called a cactus form.

This slightly loose form is called a semi-cactus form.

Flowers with broad, generally flat petals placed a little irregularly like this are called informal decorative.

In addition to the many different forms and shapes of petals, dahlias come in a wide range of colors and color patterns—like this one, which is irregularly striped with white and pink.

Kim spotted this unusually patterned zinnia flower in their patch one summer. This sort of flower, where one section is a different color, is called a “sectorial chimera,” and it comes about when a natural, chance mutation occurs in part of a developing flower stem. They’re very cool and unusual, but they don’t last, as future flowers will most likely just be all red or yellow. If you spot one in your garden, be sure to enjoy it while you can!


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/15/2019

    Wow, your photos are amazing. I love the inclusion of your family members to show the scale of the flower heads and just add a warm touch to your super impressive success with growing dahlias.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/15/2019

    The dahlias are beautiful but oh how lovely that your family is included in your pics.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 04/15/2019

    You sure have great success growing Dahlias as annuals and in zone 4b at that. They are amazing and everyone looks so happy with all the Dahlias around them! That one little Zinnia is pretty interesting too, with it's divided colors.

  4. btucker9675 04/15/2019

    Wonderful dahlias! I've never had luck with them, but you've inspired me to try again - maybe the dahlia prayers will work... : )

  5. cheryl_c 04/15/2019

    Beautiful dahlias, beautiful family, beautiful home! Tough growing conditions, and congratulations for your fabulous success with dahlias! Tell us - how much 'part shade' can dahlias really handle and do well? And also, please tell us what the green branching plants are on the top of your cabinets in the background of your kitchen/family picture. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. paiya 04/15/2019

    Kim, your dahlias and your children are beautiful. Please tell us the details of your success with dahlias: how much sun they get, whether you stake them, how you fertilize them, etc

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