Dahlias for Colder Climates

Some growers call them a myth. 

Are there really dahlias that are better suited to cold climates? I think so. Science tells me there must be. 

Growing dahlias in a cold climate is hard work. Really hard work. So hard, that I figure I (we cold climate growers) deserve a head start if such a thing exists. This month I turned to the experts for lists of what I'm calling "triple threat" dahlias. Few catalogues share more than the colors, types, and the heights of their dahlias. I want to know which ones are:

1. Early to bloom

2. Resistant to pests

3. Good producers

Before I share the lists, I have to thank the farmers at Floret, Aztec Dahlias, Dahlia Barn, and Sunny Meadows Flower Farm for sharing their insights with us. It is wonderful to be able to collect advice firsthand from the folks who have years of experience with the tubers and see trends in their growth over time. Most of the online shops are not yet open for tuber sales for the 2018 season, but I've included links for your referral. Be sure to bookmark them and get on the farms' email lists (where possible) for announcements of shop openings this fall and winter.

 The dahlias with asterisks have been tried on my farm, and I can vouch for their growth and production habits. You can bet I'll be trying the others next season!

Floret recommends: Intrigue* (pictured above), Jomanda, Snoho, Cornel*, Crichton Honey*, Suncrest, Rebecca Lynn (first to flower, super productive), and Ginger Willo. Online store.

 Dahlia Cornel is an industry favorite and it performs well in cold climates, too - offering many stems and resistance to pests (like potato leafhopper).

Dahlia Cornel is an industry favorite and it performs well in cold climates, too - offering many stems and resistance to pests (like potato leafhopper).

Aztec Dahlias recommends: Ivanetti, Cornel*, Valley Rust Bucket*, Rose Toscano, Ferncliff Copper, Cafe Au Lait*, Breakout, Peaches in Cream. "Early bloomers" from Aztec include: Tahoma Vivian, Valley Rust Bucket*, AC Kahuna, AC Devin, Skywalker. Online store. (new website coming soon!) Special note: Aztec Dahlias's owner Kate Rowe and her gorgeous dahlias were recently featured at McQueens Flower School at Russian River Flowers. See the McQueens Instagram account for a great interview with my pal Kate! Click on the image with the bright peach and red dahlias. 

 Cafe Au Lait

Cafe Au Lait

Dahlia Barn recommends: A la Mode, Bahama Mama, Coral Mystery, Cornel*, Fire Magic, Jesse G*, Maarn*, Red Hat, Salsa Picante, Sonic Bloom, White Fawn. I am especially fond of their waterlily petaled Patricia Ann's Sunset* and variegated Mingus Toni* (Mingus Toni is not available from Dahlia Barn this season). Hee Haugh was also a great producer for me, with many long stems. Online store. 

Sunny Meadows recommends: Cafe au Lait*, Ben Huston*, Diva, Beaucon White, Maarn*, Jowey Winnie, Suncrest, Sandra* (Sandra was by far the most productive dahlia on my farm this summer), and Cornel*. SMFF's Robin Hood was amazing, too. I ordered only one tuber, but they arrived early enough that I was able to take several healthy cuttings pre-season. I have 4 Robin Hoods, and I can't wait to dig them up and propagate more this fall! Online store.

 Dahlia Sandra produced the most stems of any dahlia we tried this season. It has good pest and disease resistance, too. 

Dahlia Sandra produced the most stems of any dahlia we tried this season. It has good pest and disease resistance, too. 

 Dahlia Ben Huston in all of it's peachy sweetness. Outside, it appears more golden-orangey. Inside, more bronze. 

Dahlia Ben Huston in all of it's peachy sweetness. Outside, it appears more golden-orangey. Inside, more bronze. 

I'm sure you're also seeing the trends in their answers! While this is by no means a comprehensive list from a scientific study, I've found the exercise helpful in my own pursuit of more stems per season. I hope it is also useful to you.

I encourage you to chime in with a comment below. Do you have a suggestion for another variety that might serve cold climate growers well? Please share! As always, thank you for reading.

Until next time, 

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