My approach to gathering seeds from my dahlias this year was a straightforward strategy of embracing open pollination. By allowing our local bees to freely pollinate the available blooms, we ensure a vibrant and diverse array of seeds with no further effort on our part. The unique form of a dahlia bloom can greatly impact the number of pollinators it attracts. Some dahlias, with their open-centered design, provide easy access to their disc florets, enticing pollinators and resulting in bountiful and viable seeds. On the other hand, double-flowered dahlias may not be as enticing to our buzzing friends due to their less visible disc centers. As a result, our open-centered varieties often steal the show, captivating both bees and garden enthusiasts alike.
While most of the bees were indeed attracted to the open-centered varieties rather than the double-flowered varieties in my garden, we can still harvest bountiful seed from our more sought after, closed-center beauties. Leaving the flowers on their plants will allow them to open a bit more and you can remove inner petals to make their centers more accessible for pollinators. Of coarse, the open-centered blooms will always attract more pollinators, because of this, the pollen the bees will be spreading does tend to produce seeds with plants that have open-centered forms. Although I do keep good distance between my trial seedling garden and my dahlia tuber plots (with many flowers between to knock off open-center pollen), I can still expect that the majority of seeds saved will grow be open center varieties. By selecting seeds from our double-flowered varieties, we can at least ensure that one of the parent plants is a double-flowered variety, giving us our best chance to end up with a closed center seedling. We can only hope for those few and far between that will bring forth new and exciting double-flowered varieties that will be the next craze...and that is the excitement of dahlia breeding!