Why We Rave about Dahlias

January 15, 2016

By: Ashleigh Bliss

It’s so obvious to us, but many people are surprised when we tell them that dahlias are our flower of choice, our specialty and the pride of our country garden.

We grow about 300 different varieties and we never tire of them. But it seems our favourite flower has a bit of a reputation, especially among novice gardeners who say it’s fussy and too demanding. Admittedly, dahlias have an Achilles heel—more on that later—but we’re here to say that any extra effort is worth it. That’s because no other flower demonstrates so much variety in the shape, colour and intensity of its blooms. Indeed, dahlias are so popular among serious growers that no less than 2,000 varieties have been hybridized. Once you’re smitten, you’ll be tempted to try your luck with every single one of them.

Just look at the vast array of colours. There are blush pinks and hot pinks, canary yellows and pastels; every shade of red from ruby to scarlet to vermilion; subtle lavenders and mauves to purples as dark as a glass of merlot; rusty orange to sparkling orange; pure whites to whites speckled with other tones. Seems they’re still working on blue, but indeed, few other flowers have been bred for colour with such success.

Moreover, dahlias are prolific. It’s not unusual to get more than 25 stems to a plant, and new blooms keep replacing any you take for cuttings. And then there’s the matter of shape and size. Here, dahlia flowers vary so widely that you’d be forgiven if you assumed that any two random examples were entirely different species and not hybridized cousins. We are partial to the enormous dinner-plate types—Café au Lait is our current No. 1 fave—but we also like the classic pom-poms, the semi-cactus (with pointy petals) and the simple, spherical ball types. Most of these come in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes.

…which brings us to the best thing about dahlias: They make a great cut flower. Unlike some others we could name, they keep well in a vase for several days and the smaller ones last even longer. And with so much variety to offer, they’re a no-brainer in floral design. And that alone speaks volumes about why the dahlia has been the go-to flower for generations of florists.

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