Few flowers cut a more striking figure in the garden than dazzling dahlias. Available in an impressive variety of sizes, shapes and colours, these herbaceous perennials produce a dramatic display of both colour and form through summer and autumn.
Dahlias are members of the Asteraceae family, alongside daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums and zinnia. This family name is derived from Greek word for star, and refers to the flowers’ resemblance to a radiating star shape.
Dahlias are native to the mountainous regions of Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala, and were declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963. Before the Spanish conquest of this area, dahlia tubers were cultivated by the Aztecs as a food crop. This comes as a surprise to many gardeners who see dahlias as primarily ornamental. As per their warm-temperate climate of their native area, dahlias prefer a warm and sunny location.
Most species do not produce scented flowers, but what the plant lacks in fragrance, it makes up for in its array of striking and often sculptural forms. As with most plants that don’t rely on scent to attract pollinators, their colouring is vivid and wide-ranging. Good news for cut flower fans: dahlias work wonderfully arranged in a vase, and picking the flowers encourages more blooms.
There is a style and size of dahlia for everyone: from pots, garden borders and mass plantings. Popular varieties for growing in Australia include:
1. Cactus Dahlias
Cactus Dahlias, as their name suggests, these plants have a quilled or spiky look to their blooms. They have less need for staking than other varieties.
2. Ball Dahlias
Ball Dahlias produce masses of colourful balls that unfold like a Christmas decoration, with rounded petals arranged in a spiral pattern.
3. Dahlia Decorative
Dahlia Decorative is a tall-growing variety. It produces masses of large, rounded blooms, each up to 15cm in diameter, along with lush foliage.
4. Dahlia Dwarf
Dahlia Dwarf is a miniature form that’s ideal for pots and low perennial borders. They are prolific summer bloomers that require minimal water and fertiliser.
5. Dahlia Giant Dinner Plate
Dahlia Giant Dinner Plate has flowers up to 30cm across – an absolute showstopper! They look stunning in full bloom.
6. Dahlia Waterlily
Dahlia Waterlily is an elegant variety, with exquisite flowers reminiscent of waterlilies in shape. They are long-flowering and easy to care for.
7. Delbard Dahlias
Delbard Dahlias are a French variety, with blooms offering amazing explosions of shape and colour. Hardy and drought-tolerant, they love the hot Australian summers.
8. Pompone Dahlia
The Pompone Dahlia resembles Ball Dahlias but is more petite. Garden Express is excited to reintroduce this almost-lost category of dahlia to our customers.
9. Tree Dahlias
Tree Dahlias are a magnificent, towering variety that blooms through to early winter before dying down completely.
As you can see, there’s a dahlia to suit every garden. Whichever variety you choose, these gorgeous, colourful blooms will help you ring in the festive season. Garden Express stocks a huge range of dahlias across all of the above categories, along with mixed packs and more. Shop our selection here to get started on growing your very own dahlias.