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Genus Dahlia

Dahlia Dahlia 'Kaiser Wilhelm' Photo/Illustration: Scott Kunst
DAL-ee-ah
Dahlia are easy-to-grow, tuberous-rooted, often bushy perennial with flowers from midsummer to first frost. They have straight stems and attractive, feathery, toothed, mid- to dark green leaves. Distinctive flowers come in a variety of forms, colors, and patterns. Cultivars are classified according to bloom size and petal formation.
Noteworthy characteristics: Garden dahlias are descendants of D. pinnata and D. coccinea, species native to Mexico and Central America. Leaves are pinnate, sometimes pinnatifid to pinnatisect, divided into oval leaflets with toothed margins and rounder tips. Use in massed plantings, edging a border, or in containers. A great cut flower.
Care: Grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun, and with regular moisture. Apply a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer weekly in early summer, then a high-potassium liquid fertilizer weekly from midsummer to early autumn.
Propagation: Usually by division. Can also be grown from seed and from rooted cuttings.
Problems: Stem borers, caterpillars, earwigs, cucumber beetles, capsid bugs, flower thrips, planthoppers, cutworms, slugs, snails, spider mites, and aphids may be troublesome. Powdery mildew, impatiens necrotic spot, dahlia mosaic viruses, smut, fungal leaf spots, soft rot, crown gall, blossom blights, and tomato spotted wilt virus can cause damage as well.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Dahlia

Dahlia 'Bashful' Dahlia 'Bashful'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Bashful' is a reliable and prolific bloomer. The blooms (purplish petals surrounding a golden center) have a velvety feel that draws bees and butterflies. As dahlias go, 'Bashful' is not a tall plant, so it's best to place it near the front of a bed. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Bed Head' Dahlia 'Bed Head'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Bed Head'  is a tall plant with 4-inch-wide salmon-colored blooms with an unusually tangled appearance. It flowers less abundantly than many other dahlias, but is striking nonetheless. 'Bed Head' is a lush grower that benefits from strong staking. Plant it at the back of the border, and show it off as a cut flower in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'
(Dahlia)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

With its deep purple-black leaves and brilliant summer blooms, 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a fine addition to the sunny bed or border. The 4- to 6-inch-round red-petaled flowers have deep purple and yellow centers, which are set off nicely by the plant's dark foliage. Use this long-stemmed cultivar in cut-flower arrangements. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120

Dahlia 'Bodacious' Dahlia 'Bodacious'
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Bodacious' lives up to its name, with brilliant color and blooms that are supersized in both height and diameter. Heavy-headed 'Bodacious' requires beefy stakes. The rich color and ruffled effect of the loosely arranged petals make it stunning as a cut flower. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'David Howard' Dahlia 'David Howard'
(Dahlia)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'David Howard' is large and vigorous dahlia with fine color. Apricot blooms contrasts nicely with the dark foliage and with dark-colored companion plants. It pairs well both with hot colors such as red and orange and cool blues and purples. A tall grower, it requires staking and looks best in the middle or back of a border. Perhaps best of all, it blooms continually without deadheading. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

no image available Dahlia 'Figaro'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Figaro' is a dwarf "landscape" dahlia with semi-double flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. It works well as bedding and in containers, and blooms from planting time until frost.  

Dahlia 'Fire Pot' Dahlia 'Fire Pot'
('Fire Pot' dahlia)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Resembling a water lily, the spectacular pink and yellow blooms are perfect for fabulous summer bouquets! The bright blooms are butterfly-magnets and Fire Pot is extremely easy to grow both in the garden and in containers.
-American Meadows

Dahlia 'Gallery Art Deco' Dahlia 'Gallery Art Deco'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Gallery Art Deco' is a little taller than the other plants in the Gallery series. It grows to a height of 2 feet and bears 4- to 5-inch-wide peach/apricot blooms. Petals are outlined in burgundy. 'Gallery Art Deco' provides lots of large flowers for a long time, and it is a perfect choice for containers. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Hissy Fitz' Dahlia 'Hissy Fitz'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Hissy Fitz' isn't a fussy plant, in spite of its amusing name. Its prolific and strong clear yellow blossoms  look like pompoms, thanks to the small incisions at the tip of each petal. Of medium height, 'Hissy Fitz' is a sturdy grower and not hard to stake. It's a fine addition to the sunny border. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Honka' Dahlia 'Honka'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Honka' has a simple, cheerful charm. Its eight-petaled, star-shaped flowers are lightly scented (not many dahlias are fragrant). 'Honka' brings a subtle presence to the late-summer border. Sturdy stems support the flowers above the plant and look good in the front of the border alongside taller perennials with a backdrop of dark foliage. No staking is required. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Jersey Beauty' Dahlia 'Jersey Beauty'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The 20th century's most celebrated dahlia is 'Jersey Beauty'. This towering, 4- to 6-foot-tall 1920s classic will produce so many lively, true-pink, classic dahlia flowers that you can cut all you want and still have a great garden display. This selection is exceptionally vigorous and beautiful.

Dahlia 'Kaiser Wilhelm' Dahlia 'Kaiser Wilhelm'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Of the maybe 10,000 named dahlias introduced in the 1800s—when dahlias ranked right up there with roses in popularity—only three survive. One of them is 'Kaiser Wilhelm', introduced in 1892. Its 3-inch flowers have neatly curled petals of soft custard-yellow brushed with burgundy, and a green button eye just like that of an old rose. The plant can grow to 5 feet.

Dahlia 'Kidd's Climax' Dahlia 'Kidd's Climax'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The pink-and-cream dinner-plate-sized 'Kidd's Climax' of 1947 has 10-inch flowers atop 4-foot-tall plants.

Dahlia 'Myrtle's Folly' Dahlia 'Myrtle's Folly'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

If you like the combination of peach and pink, you'll love 'Myrtle's Folly', whose narrow, twisted petals of deep pink and light orange  mature to reveal a yellow center. Perhaps too ungainly to use as a border plant, 'Myrtle's Folly' will provide a reliable supply of flowers that look perfect in a vase. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion' Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This new dahlia has gorgeous, bright yellow blooms that pop against its rich, dark purple (nearly black) foliage. 'Mystic Illusion' is well branched and makes a strong statement in beds, borders, and containers.

Dahlia 'Pooh' Dahlia 'Pooh'
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A charming choice, 'Pooh' has orange-red petals with gold and lemon-colored petal-like sepals. Plant this dahlia toward the back in a border, where its small flowers on tall stalks will be sure to stand out. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121

Dahlia 'Zorro' Dahlia 'Zorro'
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

For a change of pace, 'Zorro' looks fantastic floating stemless in a bowl of water. The ruffled petals accentuate the dark red hue. Staking is a must to prevent the stems from flopping beneath the weight of its huge and heavy blooms. Pinch back the young shoots to promote branching and sturdier stalks. 'Zorro' consistently produces quality tubers for division and, as such, is the perfect cultivar to start (or sustain) a dahlia collection. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121