The 25 Varieties of Dahlias I’m Growing This Year. Plus Dahlia Society Growing Tips.

The 25 varieties of dahlias I’m growing this season because who can forget last fall’s cottage garden? Plus the dahlia growing tips I learned from the Dahlia Society.

Behold last year’s English Cottage Garden. I really felt like it was missing one thing. A few more dahlias.

I was warned several times that dahlia people are loons. That they care about dahlias in a way no one should care about anything that doesn’t have arms, legs or come in BBQ flavour. I just shrugged it off, because the way I see it, if you’re going to be incredibly dedicated to anything you have to be a bit of a nutter.

Comi Con people are nuts too. Breeders of hairless cats? Complete lunatics. Collectors of fossils? Weirdos.

I didn’t care if dahlia people were an unhinged gang of petal pushing obsessives. Why did I not care?

  1. Loons are the most interesting of people and far superior than someone who has no interest in anything.
  2. I was never going to become one of them. I mean, I like dahlias, but I’m not like them.

And then I found myself on a 3 hour ZOOM meeting with my local dahlia society not only unwilling but actually UNABLE to leave the meeting early. I couldn’t. What if they mentioned some great planting technique? Or fertilizer? Or variety?

What if I missed out on some little or small piece of information that would reallyyyyyyy open up the world of dahlias to me? What THEN???

Also, I think 25 varieties is, like, a good start, you know, but really more of a jumping off point than an obsession.

Oh shit. Shit shit shit.

If I had 25 varieties of cheese in my fridge I would definitely consider that being cheese obsessed.

karen on recognizing she might have a problem.

It was nearing the end of hour 3 that it hit me.

I was one of them. On a much smaller, much less impressive scale, I was one of them and I don’t even know when it happened. This is how cults form. You know that right?

Consider this my coming out, as I introduce you to the 25 varieties of dahlias I will be growing this year. The majority of them were purchased from The Hamilton and District Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Society. I have not heard the word “Chrysanthemum” uttered a single time in any of the meetings or correspondence with the society so I suspect they just threw that in there give the impression we’re all perfectly normal with many interests outside of dahlias.

The Dahlia Varieties

I get asked fairly often where I get my dahlia tubers from and I’ll say it again – I joined my local dahlia society partly because it’s the best place to get unusual or rare dahlia tubers.

Check the Internet to see if you have a local society. As I may have mentioned before, dahlia people are quite enthusiastic about dahlias and will be more than happy to share tubers and information.

If you’re in Canada you can even join my local dahlia society which has more members in the American Dahlia Society than any other dahlia society in Canada.

Varieties 1-5. Hollyhill Spider Woman, Labyrinth, Alfred C, Roque Starburst, Jess Lynn.

Varieties 6-9. Gitt’s Attention, Woodland’s Wildthing, Sandra, Trooper Dan

Varieties 10-14. Pam Howden, Ivanetti, Zorro, Verone’s Obsidian, Triple Lee Dee

Varieties 15-19. Hart’s Dr. McMurray, Wine Eyed Jill, Petra’s Wedding, Hilltop Lost Treasure, Alpen Cherub (I’m REALLY excited for this one)

Varieties 20-25. Totally Tangerine, Yvonne, Cornell Bronze, Parkland Tribute, Narrow’s Erica, Dollarama Black (not it’s official name obviously, but it’s what I’m calling it)

Like I said, part of the reason to join your local dahlia society is to get your hands on hard to find tubers. This is especially true in Canada where tubers aren’t as widely available as they are in the United States.

The other good reason to join a society is for the tips and tricks. These are people who know what they’re doing. And some of the society members will have been growing dahlias for decades.

In my local dahlia society they’ve bred their own varieties of dahlias, most notably the variety Colleen Mooney from breeder John Mooney who lives a few kilometers away from me. It won the small decorative dahlia class from the American Dahlia Society.

Here are the top 3 tips I learned in our spring meeting.

Simple Dahlia Growing Tips

  1. Add a small handful of lawn fertilizer (30-0-2) to the planting hole when putting them in the ground.
  2. Plant your dahlias so the eye is 5″ below the soil surface.
  3. If you want show quality blooms, pinch off all but 1 of the sprouted eyes. If you just want a big SHOW of dahlias, you can leave the extra sprouts.

And in closing, my own little tip for you – Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you.

The 25 Varieties of Dahlias I\'m Growing This Year.  Plus Dahlia Society Growing Tips.

29 Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m curious about the photo of the 3 trays with tubers in them. Is that how you get your dahlias started early? Or is that a photo of your tubers growing eyes so you can do cuttings?

    I pot up all my tubers for an early start but it takes a lot of soil and covered space.

  2. Barbara Tilden says:

    Any advice on staking dahlias? Mine are against a wall – no fence.Thanks!
    Barbara

  3. Melissa says:

    This fertilizer ratio seems to be killing my (store bought) dahlias. Is anyone else having that problem? All my leaves are turning brown and dying. Does this ratio only work with tubers?

  4. Rachel says:

    That black Dollarama dahlia, that’s the one I need. And I mean need, cannot live without, must have. What is it really called? Please ask your dahling dahlia friends and let me know. They must have ideas about that one and where to get it. On a more carefree note, I’ve started doing that winter sowing obsession thing. The first year I planted dahlia seeds. I got 5 adorable dahlias, each in a unique shade. Felt like free magic! And, drum roll, they over wintered in the ground and came up again this year. What a gift!

  5. Jane says:

    I noticed you didn’t choose cafe au lait again this year??? I planted one last year but it seemed that bugs mostly ruined the blooms for me. Meanwhile, some cheap dinner plate yellow I bought somewhere comes back as a perennial year after year as does an unknown purple variety i picked up. But my expensive tubers I ordered from Oregon didn’t last over winter (I’m in Missouri). The surprise performer last year was Gitts Crazy.
    Anyway, I love dahlias, too. Trying cornell bronze this year.

  6. Nicole says:

    Only 25?? Such a novice. lol

    3 years ago I didn’t have a single dahlia in my yard and this last weekend we planted out over 40 different varieties. I also have some from the last 2 years – probably another 10 varieties.

    It’s an illness, I tell ya. The flowers are amazing, though, and so varied. Plus they are hardy where I’m at so I don’t have to lift them in the fall. If I did, I might not grow dahlias as I’ve only recently started growing many flowers – I was always focused on edible plants before now.

  7. Julie says:

    I love the look of all of them! I think Trooper Dan is my favourite!

  8. Jordan Lodoen Unseth says:

    Last summer after seeing your posts, we planted a few red and yellow dahlias (what was available at the local hardware store), but then we had to leave for the summer. The dahlias looked like crap when we got home, of course.
    This year we ordered 6 or 7 types from Breck’s and I hope they look even 1/2 as good as yours! I plan to actually take care of them, this time! I wish I had heard the tip re: lawn fertilizer a little sooner, we ordered the dahlia fertilizer from Breck’s.

  9. Vikki says:

    I love the names of these as much as I love the flowers!

  10. Nan says:

    You got me going!! Dahlias are half hardy here in Maryland, sometimes they take up to 2 years to come back – have to be careful when planting new ones. But I’ve never seen some you have posted. aaarrrgghh…I’m after them!

  11. April says:

    Attempting to grow dahlias for the first time this year. Started with 9 varieties. I talk about them an awful lot for something that hasn’t even sprouted yet. May be the first sign of a problem. Now off to search for the closest dahlia society.

  12. Lynn says:

    I love them also, I just cannot get them to grow as perennials 😞 here in calmar ☹️. Do I have to dig them up each year? Also they bloom to late unless I put them in a pot!

  13. Rola Fraser says:

    I love Dahlias but I could use a little advice on getting them to bloom sooner – are there earlier varieties? I’m a zone 5, I always have beautiful plants with lots of buds, but they don’t really start blooming until October and their time is so limited for me. I even started them in my greenhouse to give them a jump but they still seem to take their time. If there are any Dahlia Loons reading this that could help me out I’d appreciate it!

    • Jane w says:

      I hear ya… what I’ve tried is potting them up around March inside. I’m also in zone 5.
      Most are in the ground now and are about 6 inches or more. In fact I planted some at my garden in Falmouth, which gets a lot of sun, but a pretty stiff wind. The lower leaves got weather damage, but other than this they’re doing well.

  14. Beth says:

    Oh just wait until you start to propagate from cuttings . . . then everyone in your neighbourhood will know you are a dahlia loon because you will be trying to give them away to any passerbys. And trying to convert them.

  15. Vaneska Adams says:

    Love this! And i guess I’m a loon too because I love love love dahlias! But I don’t know where to plant them in my backyard here in MD. I usually just pot them. I didn’t even know there was a society, but I will be looking into seeing if there is one I can join. Thanks!

  16. Lorie says:

    We’ve been bitten by the Dahalia bug. Last year grew 3 tubers, this year there are 100 planted at our farm. I’ve read to fertilize once sprout appears with a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 but having a hard time locating in Ontario. Any suggestions where this might be purchased?

  17. Huguette Lacoste says:

    I only have 11 varieties and I haven’t kept track of which are planted where… Love dahlias, always have.

  18. Mary says:

    You can grow them from seed as well. Also, check out oldhousegardens.com – they have heirloom dahlias (and other delights). Your dahlias are beautiful.

  19. Linda in Illinois says:

    Dahlias are beautiful flowers. Your garden is beautiful

  20. PMMK says:

    OK, you’ve convinced me that I, too, need more dahlias. I’m not convinced that I should use lawn fertilizer on them though. Are you using high nitrogen fertilizer because you happened to have some? Which I completely understand. Or is it because the smart people at the dahlia society recommend it? Fertilizer for flowers is typically heavier on the phosphorus and potassium but lighter in nitrogen. Your dahlias look spectacular, regardless.

    PS I really like the look of the Amaranthus trailing from your window box. Why didn’t I think of that? I have 4 window boxes just waiting for something like this. Maybe with a bit of chartreuse-hued ones too.

    • Karen says:

      A dahlia society man uses it. And not just a random dahlia society member – a man who has hybridized and shown his own dahlia varieties and won one of the top prizes at The American Dahlia Society show as well as shows in England and Canada. :) So imma take his advice, lol. And just an FYI I didn’t grow the Amaranth in the window boxes, it was near the end of the season so I cut them all and put them in the window boxes to trail down. Now underneath my window boxes I have TONS of amaranth that have self seeded and grown, lol. ~ karen!

  21. Cara says:

    (Counts cheese in fridge) I’m relieved I only have 15 varieties
    I’ve always been intimidated by dahlias so maybe I can try. Fertilizer suggestion has to be a keeper because how many bloomers as for that mix? Since obviously I’m not an obsessive person… and I love me some cheese, I can handle 2 or 20 varieties haha

  22. Hanna says:

    I don’t use lawn fertilizers, so am not very familiar with the content of them but is that a typo 30-0-2 or is it really, really, full with nitrogen?
    Should it be 3-0-2 instead?

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