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Find the right dahlia for your garden

By: Sherri Ribbey
Dahlias make a late-summer garden spectacular. Be sure you’re buying the right dahlia for the right spot in your garden with our dahlia buying guide.

Find-the-right-dahlia-for-your-garden-lead: Late-season borders have a bigger impact with a variety of dahlia flower colors and sizes.

Late-summer gardens just aren’t complete without a few dahlias. Their beautiful flower shapes, colors and texture add something special to a border even through fall, when many perennials are winding down. Imagine the border above without its dahlias — it’s not quite the same, is it?

With hundreds of cultivars on the market, choosing the dahlias that will work best for you can be a challenge. There's more to it than simply choosing a color you like. For example, which can you plant in small spaces? Which ones mix into a perennial border well? Do some draw more butterflies? Make it easy on yourself and check out the recommendations below.

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Dahlia buying guide

Butterfly magnets

Cultivars with open centers make a perfect “landing pad” for butterflies.

  • ‘Bashful’ 3-in. flowers with burgundy petals; 1 to 4 ft. tall and wide
  • ‘Bumble Rumble’ Raspberry-pink-and-white 3-in. flowers with a large white collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘E.Z. Duzzit’ Soft orange 3½-in. flowers with an orange collar and yellow center; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Heartthrob’ 3-in. crimson-red flowers with a yellow and red collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Pooh’ 3½-in. bright orange flowers with a yellow collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide

Fill a border

Need some vigorous plants to fill a big border? Try these dahlias.

  • ‘Bed Head’ Vibrant orange 4-in. blooms, 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Jennifer’s Wedding’ Deep purple 7-in. blooms; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Midnight Dancer’ 6-in. rich purple blooms; 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Molly Ann’ 6-in. red blooms; 48 to 60 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Raspberry Punch’ 7-in. raspberry-pink flowers; 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Sun Kissed’ Soft yellow 5-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Victoria Ann’ 6-in. white flowers with lavender tips; 60 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide

Great cut flower

With plenty of stems, these dahlias keep your garden and your vase full of color.

  • ‘All that Jazz’ 5-in. flowers of apricot-orange to rose; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Bride to Be’ White 4-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Chilson’s Pride’ 4-in. pink and white flowers; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Smarty Pants’ 4-in. dark red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Ted’s Choice’ Deep purple 5-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Totally Tangerine’ Soft orange 3-in. flowers; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide

Add drama with dahlias

You won’t miss these extra large flowers in a border.

  • ‘Gitts Perfection’ 10-in. soft pink blooms; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Grand Finale’ Wine-purple 10-in. blooms; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Harvest Moonlight’ Solid yellow 10-in. blooms; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Mango Madness’ Peach-orange 11-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Nick Sr.’ 11-in. ruffled red blooms with a gold reverse; 36 to 60 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide

Low-growing dahlias

Dahlias under 2 ft. tall are perfect near the front of the border.

  • ‘Binky’ 2-in. white blooms tipped in pink; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Bitsy’ 4-in. lavender and white flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Firepot’ Orange and yellow 3-in. blooms; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Little Missy’ 3-in. bright pink flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Prince Charming’ 4-in. white flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide (in photo)

Fabulous foliage

Add interest to the border with these dark-foliaged dahlias.

  • ‘Bee Happy’ Fuchsia with a collar on 4-in. flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Bishop of York’ 4-in. gold blooms; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Japanese Bishop’ 3-in. orange-red flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide
  • ‘Mini Clarion’ Single 1-in. yellow flowers; 12 to 15 in. tall and wide (in photo)
  • ‘Ruby Slippers’ 5-in. ruby-red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Sayonara’ Fuchsia-pink 3-in. flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Smarty Pants’ 4-in dark red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide

Butterfly magnets

Cultivars with open centers make a perfect “landing pad” for butterflies.

  • ‘Bashful’ 3-in. flowers with burgundy petals; 1 to 4 ft. tall and wide
  • ‘Bumble Rumble’ Raspberry-pink-and-white 3-in. flowers with a large white collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘E.Z. Duzzit’ Soft orange 3½-in. flowers with an orange collar and yellow center; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Heartthrob’ 3-in. crimson-red flowers with a yellow and red collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Pooh’ 3½-in. bright orange flowers with a yellow collar; 36 to 48 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide

Add drama with dahlias

You won’t miss these extra large flowers in a border.

  • ‘Gitts Perfection’ 10-in. soft pink blooms; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Grand Finale’ Wine-purple 10-in. blooms; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Harvest Moonlight’ Solid yellow 10-in. blooms; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Mango Madness’ Peach-orange 11-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Nick Sr.’ 11-in. ruffled red blooms with a gold reverse; 36 to 60 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide

Fill a border

Need some vigorous plants to fill a big border? Try these dahlias.

  • ‘Bed Head’ Vibrant orange 4-in. blooms, 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Jennifer’s Wedding’ Deep purple 7-in. blooms; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Midnight Dancer’ 6-in. rich purple blooms; 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Molly Ann’ 6-in. red blooms; 48 to 60 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Raspberry Punch’ 7-in. raspberry-pink flowers; 4 to 6 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide
  • ‘Sun Kissed’ Soft yellow 5-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Victoria Ann’ 6-in. white flowers with lavender tips; 60 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide

Low-growing dahlias

Dahlias under 2 ft. tall are perfect near the front of the border.

  • ‘Binky’ 2-in. white blooms tipped in pink; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Bitsy’ 4-in. lavender and white flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Firepot’ Orange and yellow 3-in. blooms; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Little Missy’ 3-in. bright pink flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide
  • ‘Prince Charming’ 4-in. white flowers; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide (in photo)

Great cut flower

With plenty of stems, these dahlias keep your garden and your vase full of color.

  • ‘All that Jazz’ 5-in. flowers of apricot-orange to rose; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Bride to Be’ White 4-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Chilson’s Pride’ 4-in. pink and white flowers; 48 to 72 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Smarty Pants’ 4-in. dark red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide (in photo)
  • ‘Ted’s Choice’ Deep purple 5-in. flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide
  • ‘Totally Tangerine’ Soft orange 3-in. flowers; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide

Fabulous foliage

Add interest to the border with these dark-foliaged dahlias.

  • ‘Bee Happy’ Fuchsia with a collar on 4-in. flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Bishop of York’ 4-in. gold blooms; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Japanese Bishop’ 3-in. orange-red flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide
  • ‘Mini Clarion’ Single 1-in. yellow flowers; 12 to 15 in. tall and wide (in photo)
  • ‘Ruby Slippers’ 5-in. ruby-red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Sayonara’ Fuchsia-pink 3-in. flowers; 24 to 36 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
  • ‘Smarty Pants’ 4-in dark red flowers; 36 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide
Published: Sept. 9, 2019
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