Gardenwatch: Misfit Dahlias

Gardenwatch: Misfit Dahlias

Hello from a wet and windy Mid Wales! Long-term readers will know that I’m a bit obsessed when it comes to dahlias. I can’t pass one on a plant stall, or in a nursery, and not buy it! Well, the dahlias are getting a bit bashed around in this wet & windy autumnal weather, but some of them are still flowering.

This year, more so than others, I’ve noticed something a bit strange happening to some of the dahlias. Some of them have been mutating! Plant mutations can be called sports, breaks or chimeras, and can be naturally occurring. Mutations can affect just a single petal, a segment of petals, half of the bloom or all of it.

A Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait Royal' bloom.
Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ – half misfit!

The dahlias in my garden with the most mutations are of the ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ variety. They could be described as large creamy blooms lightly brushed with pink (as seen on the left-hand side of the dahlia above), but mine decided to be a bit different! This is the first time I’ve grown ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ dahlias, but they’re certainly beautiful. At first, they flowered quite normally, but then in early August one or two decided to get a bit creative with their colours. They’ve ranged from normal to half & half, pretty much all nearly cream and almost all pink. I just don’t know what they’re going to do next!

A pink 'Cafe au Lait' dahlia.
A mostly pink ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’!
A nearly all cream 'Cafe au Lait Royal' dahlia.
Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ – Nearly all cream!
Two dahlias.
Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ in pink and in cream.

Next up is the ‘Edge of Joy’ variety. These are most definitely one of my favourite dahlias with their stunning white petals edged with raspberry. Again, my ‘Edge of Joy’ bloomed quite normally until recently when a couple of blooms have been quite different. The bees love them however they decide to bloom.

Dahlia 'Edge of Joy'
Dahlia ‘Edge of Joy’ – How it should look…
Dahlia 'Edge of Joy'
Dahlia ‘Edge of Joy’ – Not quite how it should look!
Dahlia 'Edge of Joy'
Dahlia ‘Edge of Joy’ – Not how it should look!

Just the one ‘Zundert Mystery Fox’ decided to bloom with a mysterious pink section. Perhaps that’s why it’s got “Mystery” in its name! Who knows?

Dahlia 'Zundert Mystery Fox'"
It’s a mystery how this Dahlia ‘Zundert Mystery Fox’ got its pink bit!

If you’re on Instagram or TikTok, don’t forget to follow me! Here’s a video of one of the yellow dahlias which decided just to have one very thin stripe of bright pink. I haven’t a clue where that came from but the bees loved it all the same. A busy bee on a dahlia in the back garden. I’m not sure where the pink line on the dahlia came from, but I love seeing anomalies like that. #gardentok #dahlias #bee #bees #garden #gardening #busybees #buzzybees #buzz #buzzy #yellow #flowers ♬ Acoustic guitar live performance Gentle and nimble in nature(1007339) – Melonest

How is your garden doing? Have you had any flowers mutate?


  1. Kelly says:

    This is so bizarre, yet even with their mutations, they’re still beautiful! Clearly it doesn’t seem to bother the bees. (I’m not sure how color factors in to their search for pollen)

  2. Kris P says:

    The half-misfit Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait Royal’ is stunning, as is ‘Edge of Joy’. I had the latter on my list a couple of years ago but something went awry – the tubers were sold out perhaps. One of my Dahlia ‘Fairway Spur’ Dahlias is producing mutants. They’re not color mutations but rather variations in the shape of the flowers resulting from some of the inner petals either partially unfurling or not unfurling at all. From what I’ve read, that kind of problem is probably due to insect damage, most likely thrips. My guess is that the color breaks you’ve experienced are true genetic mutations. Growing dahlias is always interesting!

    • Nikki says:

      I think the hard part is digging them up for winter and hoping they flower again next summer! Otherwise, it’s just the usual dead heading, watering etc.

  3. Noelle says:

    Could one say that the colour of the flowers is not ‘stable’? Whatever the reasons, they are still magnificent blooms, and amazingly free from nibbles or insects.

    • Nikki says:

      Thank you! Yes, they’re dug up each autumn before it gets too cold and then replanted in late spring. I obviously forget about the hard work that’s involved when I spot a new dahlia!

  4. Ann says:

    They’re still beautiful regardless of the mutations, Nikki! I’ve had this happen to various plants in my garden, most notably and recently Salvia ‘Hot Lips’. Supposed to bi-coloured red and white, I’ve had some pure whites and all reds come up too. xxx

  5. Marty says:

    Love the “half misfit” denotation. 🙂 The mystery dahlia is my favorite. It’s really beautiful. I’d say as obsessions go, you have a very healthy one!

  6. Ginnie Hart says:

    I didn’t grow up with dahlias in Michigan or Georgia, Nikki, so seeing these in whatever mutation they come is pure delight for me. I especially love that the bees are still here with us. GOD SAVE THE BEES…and the dahlias!

    • Nikki says:

      It’s always a joy to see the bees. We’re in for a really warm week here in the coming days, so the bees will be loving the weather and the dahlias!

  7. Astrid says:

    Amazing, amazing. I am in awe of all your flowers, the mutation is just amazing and fascinating to see. They make you wonder, but the joy it gives is also amazing. I love your flowers, thank you for showing

  8. Catherine says:

    Despite the mutation on your dahlias – they’re all adorable. I had one plant last year that had one flower similar to your first – but to have so many variations on the one plant is really peculiar! To have mutations on another two makes it more of a mystery!

  9. jeanie says:

    I think your misfits are far more lovely than the “plain old garden variety”! My mom used to grow dahlias and I find them a beautiful bloom. These are fabulous.

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