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UNION JACK, 1882        
This candy-cane striped dahlia is one of the world’s oldest, according to the late Gerry Weland of the ADS who compiled a database of 50,000 dahlias dating back to the early 1800s. Also known as ‘Star of Denmark’, it’s bright and cheery, with pinwheel-like flowers of red and white. One caveat, though: its stems, like those of its wild ancestors, are lax. 3”, 2-3’, heat-tolerant, from Holland. Chart & care.
WHITE ASTER, 1879        Rarest
This is the world’s oldest surviving garden dahlia. (Do you need to know more?) With fresh green foliage and hundreds of small, ivory globes – each touched in the center with a bit of honey, or sunshine? – it has all the pristine, elemental beauty of a newborn baby. Preserved by a German nursery that has specialized in dahlias for close to a century, it’s a timeless classic. 1-2”, 3-5’, from New Hampshire. Chart & care.
WISCONSIN RED, 1910?        Rarest
This striking family heirloom with its ruby flowers on dark stems is SO easy to grow and store that it’s been a pass-along plant in Wisconsin since the early 1900s. We got our start from our friend Vytas Virkau who got it from Catherine Becker of Wausaukee who’d been growing it since the 1940s. Then we met Brenda and John Hagman whose family has been passing it down since 1910 or before – or so it seems. Learn more here, or just plant it and join the tradition! Ball, 3”, 4-5’, heat-tolerant, grown for us in Oregon. Chart & care.
YORK AND LANCASTER, 1915?        Rarest
The history of this intriguing dahlia is a mystery. One British expert told us it was rediscovered in a chateau garden and dated to 1915. Another said he saw it growing in a rural hamlet near Lyon and it dated to the 1850s. We’ll keep researching its past, but one thing for certain is its garden appeal. Every flower is different. A few open deep red, a few pearly white, but most are an unpredictable mix of both colors – trè intéressant! Ball, 3”, 4-5’, grown for us in Oregon. Chart & care.

WHY GROW DAHLIAS? They keep getting better and better in late summer and autumn when many plants are fading. They offer opulent flowers with lush colors and astonishing forms. And the more you cut them for bouquets, the more they bloom.

HISTORY — Dahlias were brought into gardens by the Aztecs, arrived in Europe in 1789, and by the 1840s garden writers in America were hailing scores of new varieties every year. Exciting new cactus forms were introduced in the 1870s, and in 1927 F. F. Rockwell reported that dahlias ranked in “the leading position of all bulbs grown in America.”

DAHLIA ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the bulbs, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Dahlia Newsletter Archives.

DAHLIAS AS CUT FLOWERS — For tips for longer lasting dahlias in bouquets, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS — Dahlias prefer full sun and rich soil. Blazing hot summers are hard on them, but see our tips for the Deep South, below. Yes, you’ll need to stake them, but it’s easy. No, you don’t HAVE to dig and store them — it’s not a law in any state! When they freeze dead, just add them to the compost pile. We send complete instructions with all of our bulbs.

PLANTING & CARE — DON’T plant outside too early! Wait till after all danger of frost is past — when you’d plant tomatoes or later. Or you can start them inside 4-6 weeks early and transplant them outside when it warms up, which is what we do here at Old House Gardens.

Dahlias thrive in light, fertile, well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy (clay), add organic material or plant in raised beds. Full sun is best, but eight hours will do. Dahlias do NOT like extreme heat, so avoid hot spots such as near south or west walls.

If you garden in zone 8(10WC) or warmer,

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