Choosing Dahlia Varieties for your cut flower garden

Posted by Sarah Kistner on

Deciding which dahlias to grow can be absolutely overwhelming! There are so many to choose from, and if you’re like me, you want them ALL. If your main goal is to grow them for cut flowers, then here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right varieties for your garden.

All dahlias can be cut for floral arranging, but depending on what you plan to do, different types will be better suited than others. Knowing the characteristics of each will help you choose the best type or form for your project.

Making arrangements with dahlias is the highlight of my late summer days

For the longest vase life, ball types are by far the best choice. The ball types are spherical, very “full”, and generally have many layers of curled, almost tubular petals. We love to use these in our mixed bouquets- particularly those that may take a day or so until they get into the hands of our customers. We typically get around 5-7 solid days from these flowers. There is also a group called “formal decorative,” which are ball-like in form but usually not quite as fully spherical- these usually have great vase life, too! Although you may not be selling bouquets, it’s nice to know that the bouquet you just made for your neighbor is going to hold up for more than a couple days!

Jowey Winnie is one of my favorite ball-type dahlias! The color works well in many different combos and the plants are prolofic!

Although they’re quite striking, the very large “dinnerplate” dahlias have the shortest vase life. Often, they’re used as focal flowers in show-stopping bridal bouquets, and they make fabulous statement pieces for events since you only really need them to look great for the day of the celebration. But they typically only last for 2 to 3 days, so keep that in mind when using them in arrangements. If you’re planning a big celebration, remember that you can “green up” your centerpieces in advance- basically filing up your vessels by creating a base of greenery, which typically is much longer lasting- and then the day before or day of your event, you can finish off your pieces by filling in with your dahlias.

The pillowy blooms of Cafe Au Lait never disappoint. What they lack in vase life, they make up for in their beauty! 

The cactus, novelty and decorative types usually lie somewhere in between. I often don’t use cactus types in my market bouquets, but I will certainly incorporate them into custom bouquets and arrangements because they add such beautiful texture and interest.

The blooms of 'Polka' are so fun to work with! I find these to last longer in the vase than Dinnerplate types, but not as long as the balls.

If you’re a home gardener- go for it! Know that certain varieties won’t last as long as others- but doesn’t that almost make them a little more special? You can always pluck out spent stems and replace them with fresh cuts from the garden. Now, armed with this knowledge, hopefully, you’ll be ready to pick out the right dahlia for the occasion- whatever that may be!

Dahlias Flower arranging

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