Favorite Dahlias: Bold, Brassy Garden Performers

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Good as gold dahlias
Good as gold dahlias
Good-as-gold dahlias (clockwise starting at the top): Big Brother, Maarn, Babylon Bronze (green center), and Philip Campos

Dahlias are born performers, no shrinking violets they. If Ethel Merman was a flower, she’d have been a dahlia, belting, upstaging, and headlining in every corner of the garden —a bold, brassy, broad-of-a-bloomer that lives out-loud unapologetically and center stage.  And like Broadway babes, no two dahlias are alike. So sit back, relax and watch a performance of my favorite dahlias, and be forewarned; there is no intermission from first bloom to first frost.

Alfred Grille dahlia
Alfred Grille dahlia
Brigitta Alida Dahlia
Brigitta Alida dahlia
Cafe au lait dahlias: as good as it gets
Cafe au lait dahlias: as good as it gets
Eveline dahlia
Eveline dahlia
Fleurel white dahlia
Fleurel white dinnerplate dahlia
Hillcrest Suffusion dahlia
Hillcrest Suffusion dahlia
Karma Dahlia "Naomi"
Karma dahlia “Naomi”

Favorite Dahlias: Making the Cut

  • vigorous growers
  • prolific bloomers
  • beautiful flowers
  • exceptional color
  • sturdy (and long) stems
  • sturdy petal structure
  • long-lasting cut flowers
Mudroom chorus line
Mudroom chorus line

Full Dahlia Disclosure: I grow a lot of dahlias for cut flower production and these are but of few of my favorites. The trouble is my intentions to write down names and varieties, and keep better records far exceeds the reality of my follow through. I usually tell myself, “Oh I can remember this variety.” Two months later, I’m scratching my head pondering a plant’s name. I promise to do better this upcoming growing season, and share my findings with you; but for now, this list should keep you dreaming through the cold winter months of the blooms to come.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite dahlias for a cutting garden?

Dahlia Tuber Suppliers

15 COMMENTS

  1. Oh thank you, Tom!! Just scrolling to the top photo took my breath away. Stunning, all of them!

    I have been lusting after that Cafe au lait, but the hefty price tag has me hesitating. Do you feel it’s worth it? I know the blooms look gorgeous, but as a whole plant,is it full, lusciious, worth it??

    I really appreciate the review.

    And I think EVERY gardener does the “I’ll remember it” ditty. After 30 years, I’ve FINALLY starting toting markers with me so when I plant, I bury a marker right there. Doesn’t help with the old plants, though…….LOL!

    • Sue, I’m also surprised by the high price of Cafe au lait, as it’s been around for a long time and available from a lot of suppliers. I purchased mine from Blooming Bulb and Easy to Grow Bulbs for around $12.95 and that included a total of three tubers. Check with them when they post their spring catalog. And it definitely is worth it, the dahlia performs wonderfully on all levels. I sell flowers to event and wedding planners, and I’d say it’s their number one choice for floral impact and presence. Mine too. The plant is lush and vigorous and thick-stemmed.

    • Some of the prices I’ve seen lately for this dahlia are a surprise. Shop around a little, and you should be able to find it for 7-8 dollars a tuber or less.

  2. Which are my favorites? All of them so far. Dahlias are a bit problematic here in in the high desert. They must be lifted and stored indoors over winter; so far I have only grown some of the smaller varieties in pots, and had indifferent success. Maybe they just need a couple of years to get established? I am re-inspired by your photos, though, and am going to order some dahlia tubers this spring. Thanks for the morning color blast.

  3. Tom,
    Wow! First real rainy day here, overcast and just a little sad for my only day off to garden and plant bulbs for spring. But, taking heart with some toast and marmalade, I opened your post to see the riot of dahlias on your windowsill. Just a bright delight! Sends me out to get to get those bulbs in so I can try for a similar windowsill in the spring.
    Thanks!

  4. Hi Tom, I love your description. Dahlias do have so much personality. To please my grandmother, when their farm had become a hobby, my grandfather grew rows and rows of dahlias. Every kind. My grandmother loved dahlias. I have fond memories of wandering amongst them And feeling their love. Jill

  5. Lovely photos. I wonder if you would share what fertilizer you use to get such beautiful blooms. I am in the snow corridor of Mount Washington so also must dig up and store my tubers each fall. I mostly plant in large pots. I also started out with such good intentions about remembering names but have now given them all anecdotal names such as “Prolific Purple”, “Rococo Red”, “Ravishing Rust”, etc. That way I can at least keep track of what’s what when planting time comes. Usually.

    • Grace, great minds think alike. I’ve started naming my nameless dahlias, too, from orange julius to raspberry swirl to supernova. As for fertilizer, I usually don’t use a dry organic fertilizer unless the plant seems to be struggling. For the most part, I use mulch and grass clippings as top dressing and it breaks down nicely and provides some boost to the plants. I also add compost to sorry-looking soil. And then there’s chicken poop which works wonders. If it’s fresh, I just leave on top of the soil so it decomposes without burning the plant, though I’ve never witnessed it burning the plant. This year I’m going to try my friend Karen’s liquid fertilizer recipe where she soaks pulled weeds in water and when the ‘stew” start to show bubbles, pour it around the plant. Seems to work wonders for her, while using up the weed piles.

  6. Thanks so much for this post. I just cut mine down a week or so ago, and it was nice to get a dahlia bouquet after I thought they were all composted.

  7. We live by Swan Island Dahlias, and oh boy, when they are in bloom it’s breathtaking! I keep buying and planting, too much temptation. And we have several now just blooming like mad, even though we’ve had several frosty nights. Just love them, and yours are gorgeous!

  8. Tom, for those who hesitate at the prices, you might want to mention that the tubers are easily divided after the first year. Like most things in the garden, a single investment results in interest rates unheard of in the banking world. (And you “profit” without hurting a soul.)

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