How To Plant Grow Dahlias, Part 3 Selecting Varieties To Grow

There are more than 20,000 dahlia varieties of various sizes and flower types that are recorded in the dahlia registry. You have an incredible variety to choose from! Some dahlia growers select varieties that have a good show record in competitions. These varieties tend to have perfect flower form and presentation. Other varieties have superior cut flower characteristics including long stems, many flowers, and long vase life. Within the Art's Nursery catalog are provided a good selection of both cut flower and show varieties. Most show varieties provide good cut flowers especially if small and medium sized flowering varieties are chosen.

In terms of size, dahlia flowers will range from 3 - 35 cm (1 to 14 inches). In 'dahlia speak' they have been divided into the following size groups:

  • AA = Giant = flowers larger than 25 cm (10 inches).
  • A = Large = flowers from 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches).
  • B = Medium = flowers from 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches).
  • BB = Small = flowers from 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches).
  • M = Miniature = flowers less than 10 cm (4 inches).

Possibly more interesting than size is the great diversity of flower types:

  • Formal Decorative Dahlias (FD)
  • Informal Decorative Dahlias (ID)
  • Semi Cactus Dahlias (SC)
  • Straight Cactus Dahlias (C)
  • Incurved Cactus Dahlias (IC)
  • Laciniated Dahlias (LC)
  • Ball Dahlias (BA)
  • Pompon Dahlias (P)
  • Waterlily Dahlias (WL)
  • Stellar Dahlias (ST)
  • Anemone Flowered (AN)
  • Collarette Dahlias (CO)
  • Single Dahlias (S)
  • Mignon Single Dahlias (MS)
  • Orchid-flowering (O)
  • Peony Flowering Dahlias (PE)
  • Miniature Ball Dahlias (MB)
  • Novelty Fully Double (NX)
  • Novelty Open Center (NO)
In the same way, dahlia colors have been placed in categories. The common groups and symbols are listed below:
  • BI = Bicolor
  • BR = Bronze
  • DB = Dark Blend
  • DP = Dark Pink
  • DR = Dark Red
  • FL = Flame
  • L = Lavender
  • LB = Light Blend
  • OR = Orange
  • PK = Pink
  • PR = Purple
  • R = Red
  • V = Variegated
  • W = White
  • Y = Yellow

When looking in dahlia catalogs you will find a particular plant with a very short description such as AA FD DB R/Y. In 'dahlia speak' this can be interpreted to mean a giant flowered dahlia with formal decorative form in a dark blend of red and orange colors. This is a very convenient descriptive form that takes a little time to get used to.

With the above information you are ready to make selections for the locations that you have identified in your flower garden. Select varieties carefully so as to blend and contrast with the other plants you have in your garden. This step can be a lot of fun during those winter months when you spend little or no time in the garden..

Read Other Parts Of This Series:
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11

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