Dahlias are part of the genus Dahlia which is within the same family as daisies, the Asteraceae family. There are roughly 40 species in the genus, 6 of which have been extensively bred as garden ornamentals and as cut flowers.
Dahlias are originally from mountainous regions in Mexico and Guatemala, where they were first discovered by Spaniard botanists during the conquering of the Aztec nation in the 1500s. But they had been in use for a long time by local tribes as water and food sources. It wasn’t until 1872 when a box of plants arrived in Holland from Mexico that the dahlia craze began.
Since then thousands of cultivars and hybrids have been bred (known as D x hybrida or D. x cultorum), with numerous forms and color combinations. These forms include anemone, cactus, single, pompom, ball, peony-flowered, orchid, water lily, decorative, and more! Dahlias come in all colors except blue and in a vast number of attractive color combinations.
They are tuberous perennials generally hardy to USDA zones 8-11, that can be grown as annuals or overwintered in colder climates. They are particular favorites for garden displays due to their bold and unusual flowers.
When it comes to growing dahlias, you first need to pick the type you want to grow.
Unique Dahlia Varieties For Your Garden
#1 Scarlet Dahlia (D. coccinea)
A hugely popular dahlia species, D. coccinea has vivid red single flowers which can reach 4 inches in diameter. This is a great plant for informal borders and reaches heights between 2 and 5 feet. Blooms may also be yellow, orange, or dark maroon, but this is less common.
#2 Dahlia dissecta
This compact dahlia species reaches 20 inches making it ideal for beds and borders. Flowers are single form, daisy-like, and either white or pale lavender with yellow floral discs. A lovely plant for cottage-style gardens.
#3 Tree Dahlia (D. imperialis)
The Tree Dahlia may grow between 10-20 feet high and has bamboo-like stems. Single flowers are 4-6 inches across and are commonly purple or lavender, but are sometimes white. Blooms are attractive to pollinators.
#4 Merck Dahlia (D. merkii)
A heavily branched species, this dahlia plant may grow to 6.5 feet and produce lovely single flowers. Blooms may be pink, white, or purple, with either purple or yellow floral discs.
#5 Andrea Lawson
Andrea Lawson is a ball form dahlia growing as tall as 48 inches. Its flowers can be 4 inches across and are extremely pale pink with lavender petal tips that are more concentrated toward the flower center. This variety will look lovely among brighter colored flowers and make a beautiful garden display.
#6 Arabian Night
Arabian Night has deep crimson decorative style blooms. It reaches 48 inches in height with 4-inch flowers. Petals are gently incurved and are a slightly deeper shade toward the center of the flower. Blooms have a small, green floral bract in the center which only adds to the uniqueness of this variety!
#7 Bishop Of Auckland
This dahlia flower is a single variety, and though not as showy as other types, it is still just as lovely! Ideal for borders, this plant grows as tall as 36 inches and has 4-inch flowers. Petals are a velvety dark red which contrasts nicely with the dark almost black stems, and deep red-green foliage.
#8 Bora Bora
Bora Bora is a cactus variety, which means its blooms are almost “spiky” looking due to the narrow petals being rolled up for almost two-thirds of their length. This dahlia flower has a wonderful tropical look with its bright coral-red flowers that fade to sunshine yellow at the center. Blooms may be 8 inches, and the plant reaches 36 inches.
#9 China Town
China Town is an extremely showy cactus dahlia that has blooms reaching 5 inches across. Flowers have a mixture of long, red-pink petals that fade to white at the tips, and shorter, creamy white petals flushed with raspberry pink. It grows up to 30 inches tall, and would look lovely in a perennial flower bed!
#10 Clair De Lune
This wonderful dahlia is a collarette variety, meaning it has a single row of flat outer petals, coupled with an inner ring of shorter and smaller petals surrounding the central disc. It grows as tall as 40 inches and has lush, dark green foliage. Blooms contrast nicely and have pale yellow outer petals, cream inner petals, and a golden central disc.
#11 Color Spectacle
A cactus variety with fully double 8-10-inch blooms, Color Spectacle is a show-stopping dahlia flower. This plant grows 3-4 feet and has coral-orange petals that are tipped with white. Plant it in groups of 5 for the greatest visual effect.
#12 Dahlegria Tricolore
This compact dahlia is perfect for container planting and reaches 24 inches in height. It is a single-flowered type, with 8 overlapping petals that are raspberry pink, fading to pale orange, with bright red bases. Blooms grow just under 3 inches wide and are attractive to pollinators, making this plant perfect for attracting bees and butterflies into your patio garden!
#13 Destiny’s Teachers
Destiny’s Teacher is a wonderful orchid dahlia. Orchid varieties are either single or double, have open centers, and a single ray of petals around a central disc (single), or fully double form with no central disc (double). Petals are pinched inward at the tips for over two-thirds of their length. This single flower has white flowers flecked with deep pink, and a golden yellow central disc. Blooms reach 2-3 inches, and plants may grow to 28 inches.
This dahlia plant is a decorative, double-form flower variety. It has magnificent blooms that will grow 4-5 inches in diameter and can be raspberry pink to magenta-colored. Reaching up to 40 inches tall, Diva blossoms are borne on long stems, making them a perfect variety for cut flowers.
#15 England’s Glory
England’s Glory is a decorative dahlia with blooms that grow 8 inches wide. Flowers have beautiful pink-purple petals with white tips. Plants may reach 4 feet, and are great for adding height to a decorative border.
#16 Exotic Dwarf
A wonderful dahlia for beds and borders, Exotic Dwarf is a compact, single-flowered variety. Flowers are less than 4 inches in diameter with soft pink petals, deep purple-pink bases, and a golden yellow central disc. These plants are attractive to bees and butterflies.
#17 Hapet Blue Eyes
Hapet Blue Eyes would make a lovely addition to any cottage-style garden! A dinner plate dahlia, its fully double blooms reach as wide as 8 inches! Petals are white with creamy yellow bases, and are tipped with the most delightful shade of violet-blue! Plants reach up to 40 inches, and their straight and sturdy stems make them ideal as cut flowers.
#18 Happy Single Flame
This sunny dahlia is the perfect choice for pollinator gardens or to brighten up patios and balconies! Single blooms grow as wide as 4 inches and have brilliant red petals that fade to sunshine yellow around the dark brown central discs. It may grow to 28 inches.
#19 Hillcrest Royal
A fantastic cactus type, Hillcrest Royal has magnificent 7-inch blooms that are a vivid magenta color. It grows up to 40 inches tall and looks most eye-catching when planted in displays of at least 5 plants.
#20 Ice Cream Beauty
Ice Cream Beauty is a waterlily variety of dahlia. These types have semi-double to double flower heads with broad petals that result in a flat flower head resembling a waterlily. Ice Cream Beauty has flowers that reach just under 6 inches with creamy-yellow flowerheads. This lovely flower is well-suited for cottage-style gardens!
#21 Jowey Nina
A ball-type flower, Jowey Nina has 4.5-inch perfectly spherical blooms. Flowers are a rich purple-pink and plants may reach 4 feet high. This dahlia variety looks impressive in meadow gardens when paired with grasses. Their sturdy stems make them ideal for bouquets and vases too!
#22 Karma Choc
Karma Choc is one of the darkest dahlia varieties and is a waterlily type! This is a fantastic plant for cut flowers as it will last 7-12 days in a vase. The fully double flowers grow as wide as 6 inches with deep velvety red and almost black centers. It grows as large as 36 inches.
#23 Karma Yin Yang
Karma Yin Yang is a decorative dahlia with 4-6-inch flowers. It reaches as high as 36 inches and has beautiful red flowers with white tips. Stems are long and sturdy, making them fantastic cut flowers for bouquets or vases.
Mambo is an anemone-flowered dahlia. These types have an outer ray of flat petals with masses of elongated central disk florets which form an interesting pin-cushion shape in the center. Its 5-inch flowers have purple-red outer petals, and red, central disk florets edged with gold. Plants reach 3 feet tall.
A beautiful single-flowered variety, Moonfire is a dwarf bedding dahlia and grows as tall as 36 inches. Blooms are 3 inches wide with apricot petals flushed orange-red at their bases. The central disk is dark brown. It is attractive to butterflies and bees, making it a great choice for pollinator gardens.
#26 Lavender Ruffles
This dinner plate dahlia has extra large flowers that can reach 12 inches wide! The fully double flowers have lightly ruffled lavender-colored petals. Plants grow to 36 inches high, and their dramatic blooms make lovely cut flowers.
#27 Pink Giraffe
Pink Giraffe is a wonderful double orchid dahlia. Flowers have pale pink petals with white undersides mottled with deep pink. It reaches heights of 24 inches, making it a unique and interesting cut flower!
This magnificent plant is an anemone-flowered dahlia. Plants may reach heights of 4 feet, and have large blooms. Flowers have cream outer petals which may be streaked with dark pink and have deep pink edging. The central pin-cushion is sunshine yellow.
Pooh is a collarette dahlia that has no doubt been named after popular children’s character Winnie The Pooh! The outer petals are vivid orange-red with streaked cream tips, whereas the inner petals are ruffled and golden yellow. The central disc is orange-yellow and blooms reach 3 inches across. This variety grows up to 48 inches plus it is fantastic for attracting pollinators or brightening up patios.
#30 Preston Park
This dwarf bedding dahlia reaches 20 inches high and has lovely single flowers. Blooms are less than 4 inches with either one of two rows of vibrant red flowers surrounding a deep purple central disk. This is an extremely eye-catching plant well-suited for borders due to the striking contrast between its bright red flowers, black stems, and very dark foliage.
Selina has spiky-looking blooms that are sometimes mistaken for a semi-cactus variety, however, it is a decorative dahlia. Flowers are cerise red and grow to just under 6 inches across. Reaching heights of almost 4 feet, these plants are great for adding height to perennial flower beds.
#32 Tahiti Sunrise
A must-have for any tropical-style garden, Tahiti Sunrise has cactus flowers that grow between 4-6-inches wide. This spectacular dahlia flower has bright pink outer petals, fading to a pale yellow heart that has purple-tipped pale yellow petals. It grows as tall as 28 inches and would be the central attraction of any garden.
#33 The Phantom
This is classified as an anemone-flowered dahlia. The Phantom has 3-inch blooms with creamy yellow outer petals which are heavily streaked with cherry. The central pin-cushion has elongated florets which are reddish-purple with warm orange inner tubes.
#34 Weston Pirate
Weston Pirate is a cactus dahlia type with vivid red flowers that reach just under 4 inches across. It reaches 51 inches tall and would make a stunning garden display or unique cut flowers.
#35 Wizard Of Oz
Wizard of Oz is a pompom dahlia plant meaning it has small, almost spherical double-blooms. Flowers are 2-3 inches wide and are a delightful soft pink. Plants reach 32 inches in height and have dark green foliage. This is a great choice for cottage-style garden borders!
This cactus-type dahlia plant has 6-inch blooms and grows to just under 4 feet tall. Petals are purple, fading to white at the base with a more yellow color closer to the center. Veritable is an extremely eye-catching variety and makes wonderful cut flowers!
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Paul McCollum. (2013). How to Plant and Care for the Dahlia imperialis or “Tree Dahlia”,
~ image source: depositphotos/swkunst