dahlia

By the late 1700’s, many travelers to the new world had noted big beautiful flowers in the late summer and fall unlike anything available in Europe. Botanical gardens in Spain and the Netherlands requested seeds and tubers be sent from Mexico. Many seeds remained viable, but only one of the tubers survived the trip. All modern Dahlia hybrids are the progeny of those few seedlings and one tuber.

Many gardeners find that August gardens often look tired or lack color. A dahlia grower will surely never have this problem. Dahlias are so big and vibrant that August is transformed into summer’s biggest show. The tubers also lend themselves so readily to division that a gardener starting with just a couple dahlias who digs and divides them each fall will soon find that their garden is full and bright from August to frost and they have tubers to share with friends and neighbors.

Thanks to a great deal of breeding work, there is a dahlia for every sunny part of the garden and every color scheme. The blooms have been divided into 19 different types which are available in every color except blue. They range in height from dahliettas which barely reach 12” and are well suited to containers, to dahlia imperialis which reaches 12’ in a single season.

Since they don’t sprout until early June, dahlias are the perfect border companion for spring bloomers which go summer dormant like Aquilegia (Columbine), Papaver (oriental poppy), or tulips. Dark leaved varieties add contrast to the garden even before their bloom time begins.

The best selection of dahlias is available with the spring bulbs from February through April. These come as tubers and should be stored in a cool, dry place until mid May when it is safe to plant. Some of our favorites that were available this year as tubers are:

A few varieties you can find at Portland Nursery:

Dahlia 'Sunshine'

Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

Mignon single* flowered and has coppery orange petal tips with a red center. Flowers are 3-4” in diameter, and the foliage is bronzy purple.

Dahlia 'Fleurer'

Dahlia ‘Fleurel’

An informal decorative* white flower capable of reaching 10” in diameter.

Dahlia 'Soulman'

Dahlia ‘Soulman’

Anemone-flowered* and has deep burgundy almost black blooms 4-6” in diameter.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff'

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’

Black foliage and red peony* flowers 3-4” in diameter.

Dahlia 'Black Wizard'

Dahlia ‘Black Wizard’

Red-petaled black-centered cactus* flower which can reach 12” in diameter.

Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait'

Dahlia ‘Café au Lait’

Unique creamy peach shade of informal decorative* flower. Blooms can reach 10” in diameter.

Dahlia 'Hawaii'

Dahlia ‘Hawaii’

Unusual mottled informal decorative* flower of white, raspberry, and yellow which can reach 10” in diameter.

We also get some Dahlias as growing plants throughout the summer, if they are grown from tubers or cuttings, we stock them with the perennials, and they should overwinter successfully with good drainage. Some are also grown from seed, these grow only small tubers that don’t overwinter well in the ground (though you can still overwinter them by digging and storing), and so we keep them with the annuals. Some of our favorites as started plants are:

Mystic Series

Dahlia: The Mystic Series:

Dark foliage with red, yellow, pink and white, or orange informal decorative* blooms on compact plants to about 2’ tall.

Dahlia 'Imperialis'

Dahlia Imperialis or Dahlia Tenuicalis Tree dahlias

Huge bamboo-like stems up to 4” across and can reach 18’ in a season. D. Imperialis grows taller and blooms later. D. Tenuicalis grows slightly shorter and blooms earlier.

Dahliettas

Dahlia: Dahliettas®

Low growers well suited to container culture, they are only available as growing plants, and come in a range of colors and bloom types. Due to their small stature they start blooming earlier than their larger relatives, but still carry on blooming until frost.

Dahlia: ‘Xera Dark Leaf mix’

Dwarf (about 20” tall) dark leaved, mignon single* flowered types that come in a variety of colors and leaf shapes.

Bishops Children

Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’

Seedlings of the variety ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ which retain the dark foliage of that parent, but come in a number of peony-flowered* colors.

Figaro Mix

Dahlia ‘Figaro Mix’

Low growing (12-14” tall) mix of single and double flowered dahlias in a variety of warm colors.

Harlequin Mix

Dahlia 'Harlequin mix’

Dwarf (12-14” tall) mix of bicolor collarette* flowered dahlias. Yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, and white prevail, with each flower usually showing two of these colors.

* Denotes a particular form of dahlia bloom as recognized by the American Dahlia Society, please see the Dahlia Society website for a sample of each form.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.

Perennials

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Native Actaea: Bugbane

Perennials

Agastache: Hyssop

Perennials

Anemone: Windflower

Perennials

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Native Aquilegia: Columbine

Perennials

Artemisia

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Perennials

Aster

Perennials

Astilbe: False Spirea

Perennials

Bellium: Miniature Daisy

Perennials

Bergenia: Pigsqueak

Perennials

Brunnera: Bugloss

Perennials

Canna Lily

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Perennials

Chrysanthemum

Perennials

Coreopsis: Tickweed

Perennials

Corydalis

Perennials

Cyclamen

Bulbs

Dahlia

Bulbs

Delosperma: Ice Plant

Perennials

Delphinium: Larkspur

Perennials

Dianthus: Carnation

Perennials

Dicentra: Bleeding Heart

Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Perennials

Echinacea: Coneflower

Perennials

Epimedium

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Perennials

Erodium: Alpine Geranium

Perennials

Eupatorium: Joe-Pye Weed

Perennials

Euphorbia: Spurge

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Bulbs

Fritillaria

Perennials

Hardy Fuchsia

Perennials

Hardy Geranium

Perennials

Geum: Avens

Perennials

Helenium: Sneezeweed

Perennials

Hellebore

Perennials

Hellebore: Gold Collection

Perennials

Hellebore: Winter Jewel

Perennials

Heuchera: Coral Bells

Perennials

Hosta: Plantain Lily

Perennials

Iberis: Candytuft

Bulbs

Iris

Natives

Native Iris

Perennials

Kniphofia: Red Hot Poker

Perennials

Leptinella

Perennials

Leucanthemum: Shasta Daisy

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Perennials

Ligularia

Perennials

Monarda: Bee Balm

Perennials

Moss

Bulbs

Narcissus: Daffodil

Perennials

Paeonia: Peony

Perennials

Papaver: Poppy

Perennials

Parahebe

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Perennials

Perovskia: Russian Sage

Perennials

Primula: Primrose

Perennials

Rudbeckia: Black-eyed Susan

Perennials

Salvia

Perennials

Santolina: Lavender Cotton

Perennials

Sedum

Perennials

Evergreen Sedum

Natives

Native Sedum: Stonecrop

Perennials

Sempervivum: Hen & Chicks

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Perennials

Top Shade Perennials

Perennials

Top Sun Perennials

Perennials

Tricyrtis: Toad Lily

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Bulbs

Tulip

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Perennials

Vinca: Periwinkle

Perennials

Viola: Violet

Natives

Native Viola: Violet

Perennials

Zantedeschia: Calla Lily