Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Bulbs

All About Dahlias (page 4 of 4)

by Diane Bilderback

Dahlia Types

Enthusiasts classify dahlias by flower shape into 16 groups. Here we have pictured 10 of the most popular types and have listed a few of the proven performers in each group, with help from the American Dahlia Society.

The details of classifying dahlias can get a little complicated. Five of the groups, for example, are further subdivided into five flower sizes, ranging in width from 10 inches down to 4 inches. These things are of little practical importance unless you plan to enter your flowers in competitions. But if you want to know more, the best first step is to get a specialty catalog such as Swan Island Dahlias.

Semicactus. Flowers from less than 4 inches to more than 10 inches across. Outer petals pointed and tubular only near tips.

Popular varieties: Inland Dynasty, Irene's Pride, William R., Magic Moment, Hamari Accord, Grenador Pastel, The Queen, Mary Jo.

Pompon. Flowers less than 2 inches across. Round-tipped petals are arranged to form a globe.

Popular varieties: Oreti Duke , Poppet, Glenplace, Moorplace.

Collarette. Flowers are various sizes. Between the outer row of petals and the central disk is a collar of smaller petals.

Popular varieties: Alpen Cherub, Little Showoff.

Cactus. Flowers from less than 4 inches to more than 10 inches across. Petals are pointed and tubular.

Popular varieties: Camano Messenger, Andrew David, Nita, Jessica, Kiwi Gloria, Glenbank Twinkle, Billy.

Waterlily. Flowers are various sizes. Multiple rows of broad petals are flat or slightly curved toward the center.

Popular varieties: Red Velvet , Figurine, Ken's Flame, Nepos.

Formal Decorative. Flowers from less than 4 inches to more than 10 inches across. Petals are broad and round-tipped, arranged symmetrically, with no central disk.

Popular varieties: Jess Lynn, Clyde's Choice, Kidd's Climax, Sterling Silver, Kenora Lisa, Formby Perfection, Hamilton Lillian, Connecticut Dancer, Tonya, Rebecca Lynn, Alpen Jewel, Rose toscano.

Single. Flowers are various sizes. One row of petals around a center disk.

Popular variety: Alta Bishop.

Novelty. Flowers are various sizes. Petals are different than those of other classifications.

Popular varieties: Akita No Hikari , Alloway Candy, Fidalgo Julie.

Peony. Flowers are various sizes. Two to four rows of flat petals around a center of twisted petals.

Popular varieties: Tinker Bell , Japanese Bishop.

Anemone. Flowers are various sizes. Flat petals surround a disk composed of densely packed tubular petals.

Popular varieties: Alpen Embers , Azuma Kagami.

Missoula, Montana-based Diane Bilderback plans on expanding her dahlia collection to include small varieties in pots and more cactus types. And she's hooked on dahlia shows!

Photography by National Gardening Association and Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

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