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Dahlias have been a real feast for the eyes in Central European gardens for around 200 years and are one of the most popular ornamental plants due to their variety. Numerous new breeds are presented every year, covering a wide range of colors and fitting into every garden project. The Dahlia are divided into special classes that define the shape of the flower and show clear differences.

For example, single-flowered dahlias look completely different from the pompom varieties. This is what makes dahlias so attractive, because they can be integrated into a wide variety of projects due to their variety. Planting dahlias can even become a real passion for many people and nowadays there are many collectors who try different varieties every year and thus find their favourites.

Dahlia classes at a glance

However, the dahlias offered are varieties that all come from the same species: Dahlias hortensis. The garden hydrangea is the classic par excellence, although this taxa is a hybrid of the following three species:

  • Scarlet dahlia (bot. Dahlia coccinea)
  • Large-feathered dahlia (bot. Dahlia pinnata)
  • Dahlia scapigera: rarely used, integrated into the cross at a later date

The large feathered and scarlet dahlia are the origin of today's garden dahlia and were crossed at the end of the 18th century. Since that time, the variety of Dahlia hortensis has increased to over 20,000 and the breeders do not let up in this regard and present more creations every year. These are divided into 15 classes that define certain characteristics of the varieties:

  • shape of the petals
  • filled or plain
  • certain vegetative characteristics

However, properties such as winter hardiness or the necessary maintenance effort hardly differ within the classes. As such, these really only describe how the flowers are formed and whether there are any special vegetative traits that differ from class to class. You can also use the characteristics to define which class it is, for example if you are walking past a garden and see a dahlia that you do not recognize. Below is an overview of the individual classes:

Class 1 - 5

1. Single flowering dahlias

This class describes dahlias that have only a single ring of petals, which is usually flat. This makes the tubular flowers clearly visible and easily accessible for pollinating insects, especially bees and bumblebees. Usually there are eight petals.

Merck Dahlia, Dahlia merckii

2. Anemone-flowered dahlias

These dahlia are easy to recognize by their numerous tubular flowers in the center, which protrude far from the flower. Each variety has a different number of leaf rings, the leaves of which lie flat against one another and are close together.

Dahlia 'Boogie Woogie'

3. Ruff Dahlias

As the name suggests, the flower shape of this class is reminiscent of a ruff, having two rings of petals. The outer ring is simple and connects to the inner ring of petals, which curl upwards. This gives these hedge dahlias the ruff look.

Dahlia 'Eos'

4. Waterlily Dahlias

What is striking about the water lily dahlias is their densely filled flower, which enchants walkers in particular with its large number of petals. In them, the tubular flowers in the center can only be seen as soon as they are fully open.

Dahlia 'Marrakech'

5. Decorative dahlias

Decorative dahlias are a class that brings together all the varieties that don't fit into any other. But they have one thing in common: the flowers are extremely densely filled and the center is never visible. The varieties can differ greatly in their actual form. The petals have a blunt tip and are often flattened.

Dahlia 'Doris Duke'

Grade 6 - 10

6. Ball dahlias

As the name suggests, these dahlias resemble a small ball due to their dense abundance and rounded and curled leaves. The flowers, which are only seven to ten centimeters in diameter, are among the smallest of the species.

Dahlia 'Boom Boom Yellow'

7. Pompom Dahlias

The pompom dahlias are even smaller, five to six centimeters in diameter. The reason for the small size is its spherical shape with the leaves completely rolled up.

Dahlia 'Bantling'

8. Cactus Dahlias

Cactus Dahlia is a class whose leaves narrow to a point at the end and resemble cactus needles. It is filled and the individual leaves curl up halfway. Cactus dahlias are among the varieties that grow tallest. The record is held by the 'Kalinka' variety, which can easily reach 300 centimeters.

Dahlia 'Camano Concord'

9. Semi-cactus dahlias

Very similar to cactus dahlias, only the petals are much wider and the flowers are attractively large with a diameter of up to 20 centimeters.

Dahlia 'Ludwig Helfert'

10. Miscellaneous Dahlias

The Miscellaneous Dahlias is the class in which all varieties are listed which, from their characteristics, cannot be placed in other classes. This includes, for example, the 'Fascination', which at first glance is reminiscent of a single-flowering plant, but then looks completely different.

Dahlia 'Fascination'

Class 11 - 15

11. Stag Antler Dahlias

These double dahlias used to be classified as divers but are now grouped in class 11 because of their ragged or divided petals.

Dahlia 'Sakura Fubuki'

12. Orchid Flowered Dahlias (Simple)

The orchid flowers are single-flowered and have completely curled petals. These are narrow and pointed, which is why they are also known as star dahlias.

Star Dahlia 'Grape Expectations'

13. Orchid Flowering Dahlias (Double)

Dahlias in this class are similar in shape to class 11, but have much wider petals that are only slightly curled at the tips. It also has more petals, which makes it look fuller

Dahlia 'Giraffe'

14. Peony dahlias

This class has the peculiarity that the two or more rings of petals are arranged differently from cultivar to cultivar. The center is flat and easily visible, making them attractive to pollinating insects.

Dahlia 'Classic Summertime'

15. Stellar dahlias

Stellar dahlias are reminiscent of ball dahlias in shape, only the petals are bent backwards and slightly curled up. At first glance, they appear as if they are constantly standing in the wind.

Dahlia 'Apelsini Sniega'

Some dahlia growers or suppliers do not list the 14th and 15th grades or merge them under the Miscellaneous Dahlias grade. For this reason you should find out from such dealers exactly whether the desired variety from these classes is available or not. Don't be surprised: the class numbers are fixed. That means if you are looking for a grade 9 dahlia, this is a semi-cactus variety.

tip: As an ornamental plant, dahlias were already used by the Aztecs. They cultivated these extensively and used their tubers as a source of food, which was also the case in medieval Europe.

30 old varieties from A - Z

There is no point in making a clear list of dahlia varieties, as the daisy family is one of the most popular ornamental plants among growers. In Germany, many gardeners particularly like to see the old varieties of the Asteroideae taxa in their gardens, of which the following 30 are the classic represent par excellence:

Varieties from A - K


  • pompom dahlia
  • In 1949 this variety was bred with the purest flower white

Alster greeting

  • Ruffed Dahlia
  • Variety with yellow ruff and leaves orange


  • simple dahlia
  • bred in Holland
  • has been inspiring since 1968 due to the yellow flowers and the high level of robustness

Arabian Night

  • Decorative dahlia
  • bred in Holland in 1951
  • the flowers are intense red-black in color and look attractive in the vase

Asahi Choji

  • Anemone Flowered Dahlia
  • one of the most popular bucket varieties from 1962
  • the flowers are striped in red and white

Bishop of Llandaff

  • peony dahlia
  • bright red presents one of the most well-known varieties from 1928


  • cactus dahlia
  • Classic from 1949 in carmine red

C.R. Jelitto

  • Deer Antler Dahlia
  • salmon pink
  • bred in 1958 by Ernst Severin
  • received an award for it in the same year


  • Decorative dahlia
  • the flowers in purple and white leaf tips have been enchanting since 1950


  • Simple Dahlia
  • intense red with yellow center


  • from 1940
  • striped in orange and yellow, hence the name
Dahlia 'Giraffe'

golden scepter

  • this pompom dahlia shines in golden yellow

Gretchen Hein

  • Decorative dahlia
  • intense pink flowers
  • a German breed from 1935

Dutch Festival

  • orange and white breed from 1960

Kaiser Wilhelm

  • oldest German variety with yellow flowers from 1881 in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Varieties from L - Z

Le Castel

  • a white classic from 1971, which is one of the most beautiful water lily dahlias from France

Lilac Time

  • The flowers of one of the most well-known dahlias from 1939 shine blue-violet

Marie Schnugg

  • American breed from 1971 with red star-shaped flowers


  • bred in France in 1954
  • intensive yellow up to the flower tubes


  • bred in 1951 by Truffaut and George
  • unique flower coloring

Olympic Fire

  • bred in 1936 for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin
  • scarlet


  • very decorative
  • Color is a painterly orange


  • orange flowers
  • Breeding from 1962 with truly gigantic flowers of up to 20 centimeters in diameter


  • bred in 1941 by Dutchman Groen
  • white bloom, lovely and graceful

Pride of Berlin

  • a popular variety in parks
  • bred in 1884 and just as well known as 'Kaiser Willhelm'
  • pink flowers


  • american breed
  • has been inspiring since 1950 with its rich dark purple petals and white tips

Tsuki Yori No Hookah

  • Japanese deer antler breed from 1953 in white

People's Chancellor

  • ideal for cottage gardens
  • bred 1934
  • is very popular with bees, butterflies and bumblebees

white aster

  • this strain can reach almost two meters in height
  • bred in 1900 with white flowers

York & Lancaster

  • Oldest variety in the world
  • bred around 1850
  • red and white color
  • running into each other

tip. If you choose one of the large-flowered varieties, you should definitely use a support when keeping them so that the picturesque plants don't buckle and miserably perish. Bamboo sticks, trellis or fences that the daisy family can hold on to are particularly suitable for this.

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