Dahlia color trends and 10 must-have varieties for 2024
Dahlias are quite simply the hottest flower on the block. Available in all sizes and colours, these stunning Instagram-ready flowers have made a huge comeback. They have shed their image as slightly dull pieces of art and have risen to the height of floral fashion. Dahlias are now great elements in borders, containers, bouquets and interior decorations.
From narrow, geometric globe varieties to bulbous, dinner-plate-sized varieties in every shade of the color scheme, dahlias make an ideal cut flower with a long vase life, especially the globe and ball types.
But the unstoppable popularity of dahlias isn’t just about their showy good looks—it’s about sustainability, too. Dahlias have not been very popular with traditional florists because they do not travel well. The flowers should be picked when they are open, making dahlias ideal for the local cut flower market.
Dahlias fill the need for gorgeous blooms that haven’t been flown in from the other side of the world and the ever-increasing demand for sustainable flowers has fueled the growth of a whole new floriculture industry of dahlia specialists. So, if you can’t get enough dahlias from growing them in your own garden, you can choose your own or buy them from a local flower grower.
When to plant dahlias
Dahlias hail from Mexico and love long, hot summers, but they do very well in the British climate and are relatively easy to grow if you follow a few rules. Plant them in spring and you are guaranteed to flower in their first season – they will continue to produce flowers from mid-summer until the first frost at the end of October. The key to their success is that the more flowers you cut, the more you get.
How to grow dahlias
Five steps to successful dahlia cultivation:
Store tubers in temporary containers in the spring. Do not plant too deeply and water moderately at first. Store in a frost-free or sheltered location in the garden.
The tubers will start shooting as the weather warms. Watch for snails and slugs that love the young shoots. You can take cuttings at this point and get more plants for free.
Plant in their final position in May or after the last frost. Dahlias need a place in full sun. Support taller varieties with a sturdy cane and tie them gently.
Cut the main stem back to a pair of leaves to encourage more stems and more flowers. Feed regularly during the growing season, especially if you are growing in containers.
Dahlias are perennials, but they hate cold and moisture, so, if you have heavy clay soil, lift the tubers as soon as they have finished flowering and store them in a dry, frost-free place over the winter. If you have lighter soil or a sheltered garden, you can use a thick mulch to protect the tubers. Or treat it as an annual and start over next year!
Dahlia color trends
With over 6,000 cultivars to choose from, it’s hard to predict how successful dahlias will be in 2024. The dazzling anemone style has had ‘Café au lait’, the classic ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, curious pompoms, colorful décor, and the cactus style. And more. Their moment as social media stars. In the world of floriculture, flower growers have a good sense of which ones attract the most attention from visitors and hand-picked brides.
“Coral, peach, apricot and pink were very popular” in 2023 and will continue into this year, says Anna May of Dorset Dahlias, who grows local and event flowers. “The previous trend of pastel pink, blush, and white has been overtaken by this move toward bright, bold, clashing colors,” she adds.
Dottie agrees about Joe Goody from the Dahlias. “I think there will be two main trends: natural light colors and muted pastels. There is always a demand for combinations of orange and pink and for ‘garden-style’ flowers in a looser, more relaxed style. There are lots of dahlias to choose from in this color combination, as well as Fresh green herbs and foliage, looks amazing.
“For those who perhaps don’t enjoy brighter colours, I think muted pastels, especially those including light lavenders and violets will be popular. These muted colors blend well with blue/green foliage like eucalyptus, which also looks great with white dahlias They provide a completely different look to bright colours.’
“2024 dahlias will embrace color trends that offer a mix of familiar shades with a contemporary edge,” says Natalie Tudhope of Somerset Dahlias, blending nostalgia with transformation. For inspiration, see Pantone’s Spring 2024 Color Trends Report (with rich, earthy colors Sun Orange and Fiesta) and WGSN and Coloro’s 2024/25 color trends, Apricot Crush and Intense Rust.
Dahlia’s top 10 picks for 2024
Choose your color scheme for summer and pre-order your dahlia tubers now for delivery in March. Or order plug plants to grow later in the season.
Dahlia growing trends
Many new entrepreneurs have emerged from the lockdowns of 2020/2021, turning their local passion into a whole new career.
Andie MacDowell created Dahlia Beach after her wedding video business dried up during the pandemic. She began selling batches of dahlias as ready-to-use packages, with the promise of a stunning flower bed in just a few months – great for new gardeners. “Over the past three years I have gone from being a hobby gardener to becoming the largest supplier of cut dahlias in the UK, all thanks to sharing my story on Instagram,” she says.
Dahlia Beach, like many other growers, runs a wholesale cut-flower business, as well as a pick-your-own field. This aspect of dahlia planting is becoming increasingly popular, especially with brides who choose dahlia plants to match the color of their wedding and grow and pick the flowers to order.
Another emerging dahlia trend is edible dahlia petals and dried dahlia flowers. “Before the pandemic, I experimented with drying dahlias,” says Philippa Stewart, of Just Dahlias in Cheshire. “When lockdown came and events were cancelled, I dried my entire crop. It was a real pivotal moment for my business, and I had my best-selling season ever.
‘As it dries, the color becomes more intense. ‘I dry flowers all over my house – hang them directly from the cutting, out of direct sunlight and in a well-ventilated area without even a whiff of humidity and let the flowers dry over three weeks.’
Find dahlia flower farms near you at Flowers from the Farm.
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