Last season I really felt like my dahlia obsession reached a whole other level. I haven't done an official proper count but I think I grew over 70+ varieties and maybe around 900-ish plants. Unfortunately other than a few rows I planted early, the bulk of them were perfectly timed to hit their stride in March but due to shifting and then lockdown they never really got their chance to shine this year.
I did however have some limbo days inbetween the chaos of everything where I took the rare opportunity to make sure I photographed and documented every variety I grew. My summer flowers always end up neglected in their photography as the busyness of the season has well and truly taken over by then.
So now that I have this catalogue of images that I'm dying to find a use for, I thought it'd be a perfect opportunity to do a round up of my favourite dahlias for cut-flowers. I know my list is going to drastically change next season due to all my imported new varieties I'm very excited about, so I'm taking a moment to celebrate some old favourites and new trial successes from this past season.
Hands down my favourite dahlia variety for the last couple of seasons! It's the perfect complex impossible to describe or photograph smokey warm mauve. The plants are on the short size but with a good pinch and deep cuts when harvesting I get more than enough stem length from her. I find the smaller pompom & balls the most versatile type dahlias to design with and I was popping these into every flower crown order I possibly could when they're in season.
New to me last season, she quickly became one of my top go-to every harvest. The perfect warm salmon pink that made all the other varieties & colours in her vicinity sing! Long strong stems, these open decorative/waterlily shaped dahlias can have the tendency to drop their back petals early, but if picked nice and tight Salmon Runner had a great vase-life.
Sebastian [sold as Nathalie G]
One of the most productive varieties I grew last year, it was truly unbelievable how many stems I hauled off them week after week! I bought it as "Nathalie G" from NZ Bulbs but I never felt quite right about the colour vs expectations, and when I stumbled on a photo of Sebastian that matched soo perfectly what I had, I knew it'd been another mislabel. But it was a happy mislabel in this case at least! Its colour seemed to constantly shift with temperatures from a soft apricot peach to coral pink tones.
Jomanda kinda suffered from my neglect a bit this season as I never got round to netting or corralling, and with the lack of rain to really firm up their dust beds they were a sorry state of flopping over the paths most of the season. But regardless of that it's still been one of my top go-to varieties these last couple of seasons. (When I'm not abandoning it) It has amazingly long strong stems and the perfect ball form for the best vase-life dahlias can offer. It's smokey burnt orangey muted watermelon terracotta is the perfect shade for all things autumnal!
There's soo many good orange dahlias out there it's really hard to pick a winner, but from a cut-flower perspective Sylvia is by far the best orange I've ever grown. It's the perfect mid-orange ball to solve all your orange needs, and utterly insane productivity with huge plants loaded with long strong stems all season long.
Another variety I found myself tucking into just about every mixed dahlia bunch all season. It's a peachy apricot with a lovely golden glow to the centre of it's petals. Amazingly long stems and pretty productive, it passed it's trial with flying colours!
I'm particularly fond of all warm golden yellow tones, so while cactus shaped dahlias aren't my favourite I literally couldn't stop taking my eyes of Embrace. It starts out the most wonderful glowing gold, and softens to a soft golden apricot as it opens. I liked to pick it really tight for the best vase-life.
Finding a good white dahlia has been the bane of my existence for the last few years, and one of the main reasons I'm importing as many white varieties I can get my hands on for next season. But White Purity was the star of the show this season, last season I tried a couple plants that just sulked all season and I was soo ready to write off this variety completely, but in lieu of being shorted 3/4 of my whites on one of my orders I got desperate and ordered new tubers again at the last minute this year. I am so glad I gave her another shot as I don't know what made the difference but her plants were so big, tall, healthy and productive this year—by far the best white I've grown to date. Though she wasn't really the pure white that her name claimed, more of a crisp white with soft lavender flush to the centre that did fade when fully open.
My favourite little pompom! I love how this variety seems to flourish at every imperfection, usually whites succumb to brown at every sign of rain damage & little bug bites, but Bowen somehow more often than not seems to turn those imperfections into an asset and fleck with magenta rather than go brown, which is a seriously desirable trait on any light coloured dahlia!! This year I noticed it seemed to be a bit more creamier most of the time than I remembered from last season, but whatever shade of white/cream/softest blush it's super versatile size makes it one of my top favourite dahlias to design with!
Another mislabel lottery win! I found this gem in the middle of my Wyn's Moonlight Sonata patch, and after some quick googling I'm pretty sure it's Jowey Mirella. My go to burgundy dahlia for the last couple of years has been Gipsy Night, and while it is definitely more productive than Jowey Mirella, I know Jowey Mirella is going to take the cake for best burgundy once I bulk up my numbers drastically with my imported tubers! It's has the most perfect ball form and a nice deep dark red burgundy, with long strong stems. Its only downside is it's not overly productive, but for the best everything else I think it's worth just planting more of them to make up the shortfall.
I really struggled to keep it to just my 'top 10', so here's some bonus extra varieties than I had to add on to my list.
Single + Anemone + Collarette dahlias aren't typically touted as the best cutting varieties of dahlias, but I just can't get enough of them, and if you pick them super tight I'm more than happy with their vase-life, albeit shorter than other types of dahlias. They can be a little harder to work with when designing out of water in the heat of summer (they really do need to be in water as much as possible), but the extra effort is totally worth it in my books.
Twynings After Eight
One of the most striking dahlia varieties I've grown, I'm seriously obsessed with the dark foliage and if you're worried about the sorter vase life of the flowers you could grow them solely for their interesting textural dark seed pods. I discovered using dark foliaged seed pods last year with the red Waltzing Matilda, but I've found the Twynings After Eight to be so much more versatile by ticking that elusive white flower box as well. For best vase-life harvest before any pollen sheds (aka before the bees pollinate them), and when the petals are about mid-way from opening flat as they continue to open once cut.
I haven't seen the dreamy buttery-blush Appleblossom dahlia available in NZ (yet? 🤞), but April Heather is the next best thing that I've found. It does vary in colour slightly throughout the season, this photo was when the outer petals were a particularly darker blushy pink, but they were often much softer than this, leaning more buttercream-blushy with brushes of pink. Either way I wanted to use this variety in everything all season!
This might have to be my favourite single dahlia to date, it's dark stems, foliage & centres mixed with it's two toned warm pink petals makes it a complete scene stealer wherever it's used!
One of my spur of the moment unplanned purchases from Sarah at Unfurlings, which quickly passed its trial as soon as I seen the first flower. I love flowers that mix colours within them as they can really make and elevate every palette so this mixed deep magenta with white brushed tips and golden centre when open were a complete dream to work with.
*I'm still building up my tuber stocks for these varieties so I likely won't have many or any of most of these available in spring, so if you spot these gems available elsewhere I highly recommend you snatch them up right then & there.
So beautiful and unique.
Hi Lynne, at this stage I’m not quite sure if or how many I might have spare of all of these. I’ll have a better idea by the end of winter once I’ve divided and seen what’s survived storage. I am still building up my tuber stocks on these particular varieties to focus on hopefully having them available next season (2021), so it’ll only be very limited numbers of the odd ones at best this year unfortunately. But any spares I do have I’ll list for sale when I release the last of my buffer stock from my imported tubers at the end of August/September, so make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter to find out when so you don’t miss out :)
Hi there, is there a chance of ordering any of you Top 10 Dahlias for cutting?? Been on your website and all sold out. Cheers Lynne