Dahlia (Dahlia cultivars and hybrids)


Flower Field, Flower Dome

Dahlia Flower Dome Landscape 1

It’s the Lunar New Year, so come and marvel at these beautiful dahlias, all of which were grown in-house! This time, there are some unique varieties that are showcased, and once you see them in real life you’d understand why! One of my favourites is definitely Dahlia ‘Striped Vulcan’. Also, dahlias of different sizes are featured, ranging from the dinnerplate dahlias such as Dahlia ‘Kevin Floodlight’, with a dinner plate-sized diameter of over 20cm, to the mini pompoms like Dahlia ‘Small World’. 

Dahlia Flower Dome Landscape 2

The Dahlia genus is native to Mexico and Central America, found growing on the uplands and mountains from elevations between 1500 meters and 3700 meters. They belong to the same family - Asteraceae - as sunflower, daisies, and chrysanthemums. Hence, they do look similar but different in their own ways. Other than blue, dahlia flowers come in almost every colour, making them a very attractive plant to display!

Dahlia Flower Dome Landscape 3

Although originating from Mexico, the genus Dahlia is actually named after Andreas Dahl, a Swedish botanist and a student of Carl Linnaeus, by the Madrid Botanical Gardens back in the 1790s. He originally classified dahlias as a vegetable due to their edible tubers! It is said that dahlias taste crunchy, like water chestnuts and carrots, although we have yet to try them. The majority of the dahlia cultivars now are bred and cultivated for their showy flowers rather than a food crop. 

Dahlia ‘Striped Vulcan’ - a representative of the semi-cactus floral form. Dahlia ‘Striped Vulcan’ - a representative of the semi-cactus floral form.

Featured here is Dahlia ‘Striped Vulcan’, one of my favourite dahlia cultivars in the display! It is a semi-cactus Dahlia cultivar, as characterized by its floral form, specifically the shape of its petals. Like all members of the aster family, the ‘petals’ are actually the strap-shaped projections of the ray florets, but we’ll refer to them here as ‘petals’ for simplicity!  As compared to cactus dahlias, semi-cactus cultivars like ‘Striped Vulcan’ have a broader petal base curving slightly inwards at the petal tips. This cultivar is particularly eye-catching due to its variegated flowers, with bold red stripes on a yellow background - a perfect colour combination to celebrate the Lunar New Year! 

Dahlia ‘Lindsay Michelle’ - a fimbriated cactus dahlia cultivar. Dahlia ‘Lindsay Michelle’ - a fimbriated cactus dahlia cultivar.

Dahlia  ‘Lindsay Michelle’ is a fimbriated cactus dahlia, and I’m sure you can see why! The petals of cactus dahlias are narrow and pointy, resembling the spines of a cactus. Compared to a semi-cactus dahlia, the petals are also rolled in even more to form a point. This cultivar has a very vibrant colour of yellow and pink. Did you manage to spot the split tips of the petals too? Fimbriated comes from the Latin word for ‘fringe’, in reference to the fringed petal tips. 

Dahlia 'Kelvin Floodlight’ (left) and Dahlia ‘Holland Festival’  (right) — two dinner plate-sized dahlias! Dahlia 'Kelvin Floodlight’ (left) and Dahlia ‘Holland Festival’ (right) — two dinner plate-sized dahlias!

Dinnerplate dahlias never fail to amuse me due to their huge flower size! Though an unofficial classification of dahlia cultivars, dinnerplate dahlias must have a floral diameter of the flowers of at least 20 cm across. The cultivar, ‘Kelvin Floodlight’ is considered to be one of the oldest dinnerplate dahlia cultivars that is still under popular cultivation; it was introduced in 1959. Come check out the forty unique dahlia cultivars in this year’s show at Flower Dome’s Dahlia Dreams display! 

Written by: Ng Yu Qin, Horticulturist, Research and Horticulture

Yu Qin is always looking for ways to pick up new skills and put them to use. She spends most of her time with orchids and enjoys learning something new about them every day!

This article is part of our What's Blooming series.