Variety Comparison: Sandia Panama and Polka

Sandia Panama” and “Polka” dahlias: if you’re not careful, you might mistake these two varieties for each other on their own, but side by side, it’s super easy to tell them apart. Let’s compare these two!

Sandia Panama, a 2019 introduction from Steve and Sandy Boley at Birch Bay Dahlias, is a perfectly classic anemone-form dahlia. Festive “Panama” has bright red ray petals which are outlined in white, with a fluffy, domed golden yellow center. Sandia Panama is smothered in blooms from mid-summer to frost. As an anemone form, it does not have the longer durability and vase life of a fully double dahlia, but picked for an event, this dahlia adds unique sparkle to hot-palette arrangements.
Polka is also an anemone-form dahlia, but with a less-pronounced disc florets and more graduated layers of ray petals than Sandia Panama. This beauty first appeared in dahlia shows in the year 2000, and is still as beloved and popular today as it was then. Its shallow disc florets are also a golden yellow, and its white ray petals are outlined with a red picotee that is usually so thin that it often barely gives a blushy tint to the petals. 

Both of these dahlias usually top out for us at about 40″, and both varieties have a lovely, open growing habit. Polka generally has stronger stems for us than Sandia Panama, but it does tend to shatter (drop its petals) after 2-3 days in the vase and like Sandia Panama is best used on the day-of as an event flower.

Both Sandia Panama and Polka are good tuber producers for us. That said, Sandia Panama is one of our top “useable/salable” tuber producers, while Polka’s prolific tubers are often quite big, making finding salable ones a challenge. (We can’t sell tubers that are too big for our boxes!) 

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, we finished digging all of our dahlias 🥳 (about 50,000 this year!). While keeping them organized and safely stored all fall and winter is a big, detailed task, it’s worth it to have so many varieties available in the growing season. We can compare blooms like these two side by side for height and vigor, and can observe how they change throughout the season. The added benefit of growing and comparing the genetics of the 700+ named varieties here at Triple Wren (as well as their bountiful seedlings!) is giving us years of rich data to create a living, growing body of knowledge about these amazing plants.