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On Gardening: The Garden Guy is a virtuoso at dahlias

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

At the end of April, I had a gardening epiphany, a virtuoso experience if you will: I grew my first dahlia.

The hot and humid region of the Chattahoochee Valley of west Georgia is probably not the first area of the country that comes to mind at the mention of a dahlia paradise. But this day in April, as I looked at the Pinkerific, I felt as if I were looking at the most beautiful flower I had ever grown. I sent pictures to colleagues doing a high-five and strutting as if I were the winner of the International Dahlia Federation, if there is such a thing.

As I write this looking out the sunroom window at my Pinkerific, I still think those are the most beautiful blooms. To top all of that, I am not really a pink flower kind of guy. Pinkerific is one of five new dahlias that will make their debut next year as the Virtuoso series. There is Classy Carmine, Vibrant Violet, Dayglo Yellow, Rad Raz and the love of my life, Pinkerific. They are all suggested to get 15 to 18 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide. Now in early July mine is pushing that height and 24 inches wide. Don’t forget I am in zone 8, Georgia.

All of my varieties have performed beyond all my wildest expectations. April and May were mild and wonderful, while in June, the triple digit heat indexes seemed to be belched out of the fiery pits of …well, you know. Rain also ceased to exist. In April and May, I had all containers in full sun but as June showed its ugly nature, all were moved to a morning-sun/afternoon-shade environment. Mobility is a great thing about container gardening.

So, by now you have noticed all of my Virtuoso dahlias are grown in mixed containers. I used really good lightweight potting soil and have been feeding every 2 to 3 weeks with a water-soluble mix. I have been impressed with how long the flowers last on the stem. Deadheading is a breeze, as easy as a zinnia.

Since I’ve never grown a mixed container where a dahlia was the thriller plant, I basically played off color. Superbells calibrachoas played a major role in my plant combinations. With Virtuoso Pinkerific, I combined Superbells Magic Pink Lemonade and Yellow calibrachoa with Stardiva Blue scaevola. I used Superbells Grape Punch and Tangerine Punch calibrachoas and Stardiva White scaevola with the Virtuoso Dayglo Yellow dahlia.


Lastly, I used Superbells Blackcurrant Punch and Magic Pink Lemonade calibrachoas along with Stardiva Pink scaevola with the Virtuoso Vibrant Violet dahlia. Virtuoso Classy Carmine dahlia is so rich of a color it looks as though it was created for royalty. Here I broke from the Superbells partnership and went with the yellow Supertunia Saffron Finch petunia and Stardiva Blue scaevola to create a floral triadic harmony of color. I’ve mentioned Stardiva scaevola several times. I’ll be writing about it, but put a check mark on this one as a must-have plant in 2025.

I can’t remember a year like 2025 where so many great new plants will be making their debut, the Virtuoso dahlia series is a prime example.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

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