Grow Dazzling Dahlias

Native to Mexico and Guatemala, dahlias have captivated plant lovers for centuries starting with Spanish explorers in the 1600s. Robust dahlia plants bear striking flowers ranging from golf-ball size pompoms to daisy-like collarettes. Choosing among the 50,000 named varieties can be daunting. Below are selections from Sharon and David Tooley, award-winning Penasquitos dahlia growers active in the San Diego County Dahlia Society.

Jessica - Striking cactus-type flowers with narrow incurved (rolled under) lemon yellow petals tipped in vivid magenta-red. Four to 6-inch wide flowers on 3-4-foot tall plant.
Penhill Watermelon - Flowers up to 10-inches wide are among the largest grown. Gracefully curved petals are blushed with cream, rosy pink and golden yellow.
Zorro - Another 10-inch wide whopper with deep red ruffled petals. Stems are strong, but this and other large-flowered plants may need staking.
Pam Howden - A waterlily dahlia with symmetrical petals that curve gently inward. Orange, pink and yellow petals create a sunny glow.
Chimacum Troy - A mini-ball type dahlia with 3-inch round flowers in rich purple-red. Plant grows about 3 feet tall.
Alpen Diamond - A colarette dahlia with eight petals surrounding a central raised cluster of smaller petals. Outer petals are pink, lavender and white with center petals of golden orange.

Two of the Tooleys' favorite sources are Colorado's Arrowhead Dahlias ( for tubers and Corralitos Gardens ( on California's Central coast for rooted cuttings.


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