Dahlias are the current darlings of the gardening world, and for good reason. The Dahlia is an incredibly versatile flower, available in various sizes, shapes, and single or multi-color variations. There’s a suitable dahlia variety for every garden! Their late blooming period makes them a showstopper in your garden during late summer and early autumn.
What Are Dahlias?
Dahlias, named after the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, were initially cultivated for their edible tubers. Over the years, numerous dahlia species and cultivars have emerged, classifying into various types:
- Single-Flowered Dahlias: Simple, elegant, and with a single layer of petals.
- Anemone-Flowered Dahlias: Showcasing a central disk with one or more rings of petal-like florets.
- Collarette Dahlias: Adorned with a ring of smaller florets around the central disk.
- Waterlily Dahlias: Resemble the beauty of water lilies with their open, delicate petals.
- Decorative Dahlias: Known for their striking, decorative forms with vibrant colors.
- Pompon Dahlias: Compact, globe-shaped flowers resembling pompoms.
- Cactus Dahlias: Characterized by their spiky, tubular petals.
- Miscellaneous: A category for all the unique and diverse dahlia types.
Dahlias are frequently featured in floral parades because of their strength and the multitude of available colors.
There are currently over 20,000 dahlia species and subspecies, coming in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes. The flowers can be solid in color, multicolored, or even have stripes or dots. The number of petals can vary from just a few to dozens, and their shapes differ – round, spiky, or rolled. However, one color they don’t come in is blue.
Dahlia Bulbs or Tubers vs. Perennials?
Dahlias grow from tubers, not bulbs. The key distinction is that bulbs produce only one flower stem, while tubers sprout multiple shoots that develop into flower stems. Unlike perennials that can survive the winter in the ground, dahlias are not winter-hardy.
Planting dahlias should be done in May. Find a sunny spot in your garden, preferably in the morning sun, with rich soil. Dig a hole and mix in some potting soil and organic fertilizer. When the dahlia plants reach about 20 centimeters in height, pinch out the tops of the stems to encourage branching and more flowers. Dahlias appreciate some extra water during dry periods.
Choosing the Right Location
Dahlias thrive in morning sun but can tolerate a part of the day in full sun. Combine them with leafy plants or ornamental grasses to create a striking effect. Experiment with various colors to create a vibrant garden.
Dahlias in Containers
Dahlias can be successfully grown in pots. Planting them in pots in March can extend their blooming period as growth starts earlier. However, be cautious about exposing them to frost and gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions if it’s still cold in May. Dahlias are extremely sensitive to frost.
In autumn, dahlias should be carefully dug up. Their tubers can’t endure frost due to their moisture content. Cut the stems about 10 centimeters above the tuber, remove the soil, and let the tubers dry. To keep track of different dahlia varieties in your garden, consider labeling the tubers. Store them in a dry, frost-free place, like a wooden box with some newspaper. Check regularly during winter to ensure they remain adequately moist but not too wet.
Dahlias come in various sizes, from around 20 centimeters to a towering 200 centimeters. Most varieties fall somewhere in between. Regularly removing spent blooms will extend their flowering season from mid-June to the first frost. You can find dahlias in white, yellow, pink, salmon, orange, red, purple, and even black. Additionally, they are available in two or three-tone variations.
Some Unique Dahlia Varieties
Dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’
Ideal for weddings with its pastel color between salmon pink and white. Large and elegant blooms that last from July to the first autumn frost. The plant reaches approximately 100 centimeters in height.
A cheerful yellow-orange Collarette Dahlia, blooming from July to frost. Suitable as a cut flower and attractive to bees and butterflies. Height in bloom is between 50 and 70 centimeters.
A hard-to-find dark red Cactus Dahlia, standing at about 100 centimeters when in bloom. The flower has a diameter of 20 to 25 centimeters. An excellent choice for a striking addition to your garden.
The largest dahlia, suitable for a greenhouse or conservatory in the Netherlands. It can reach heights between 3 and 4 meters. When it blooms, it displays lovely light flowers in a pink shade, each with a size of approximately 5 to 8 centimeters.
Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’
Features dark brown/red blooms. When in bloom, the plant reaches a height of about 80 to 100 centimeters. The petals darken towards the center of the flower, giving it a striking look.
Dahlia ‘Creme de Cassis’
A decorative dahlia with a remarkable color combination. The upper side of the petals is light pink to pastel, while the underside is dark red/purple, reminiscent of cassis. The large blooms boast a diameter of 20 to 25 centimeters and last through the summer until the first autumn frost. The plant’s height in bloom is about 70 centimeters.
A large-flowered variety with blooms about 25 centimeters in diameter. Its exuberant pink color and gracefully curled petals make it a garden eye-catcher, reaching a height of approximately 70 to 90 centimeters.
A group with hundreds of dahlia varieties, usually ranging from 50 to 120 centimeters when in bloom. These dahlias have globe-shaped, tightly packed, and rolled petals. There’s a vast array of colors to choose from.
Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’
Features a soft orange flower with a pink hue. The plant reaches a height of about 100 centimeters when in bloom. It’s a very prolific bloomer, with flowers boasting a diameter of 10 to 12 centimeters. This dahlia blooms from July until the first frost.
Whether you prefer the pastel elegance of ‘Cafe au Lait’ or the rich, dark hues of ‘Arabian Night,’ dahlias offer a delightful palette for garden enthusiasts. Explore the world of dahlias, and you’re sure to find a variety that captures your heart.