W&D Florals: How To Grow Dahlias

Interiors & Decor

Photos by Melissa Oholendt

Around these parts, my friend Jackie is known for her green thumb and incredible floral designs. It’s not often you meet a designer so in tune with the nature of her medium, and over the years Jackie has taken it upon herself to grow blooms that suit her tastes. Homegrown is always, always better. Today, Jackie is sharing her tips on how to grow dahlias right in your backyard. It’s something I have on my to-do list for spring! 

Munster Rose for W&D_34
Munster Rose for W&D_38

Fall has officially begun. The leaves are changing and the world is turning to pumpkin lattes, squash bisque, and cable-knit sweaters. But in the floral world, we still have a few good weeks left to forage blooms from our fields.

My absolute favorite flowers during this season are dahlias. Specifically dinner plate dahlias. These gorgeous many-petaled beauties (literally the size of your head!) are the most show-stopping thing I’ve worked with in the floral industry. Ever. I have absolutely no idea how Mother Nature does it.

The main problem with these ladies (yes, I call them that) is that they don’t travel well. I found this out the hard way after trying for a full season to fly them in from California and Washington. The results? Not good. So I decided to grow my own.

Munster Rose for W&D_05

Here are some tips for planting and enjoying your own dinner plate dahlias.

1. Plant as early as possible. As soon as the last chance of frost has hit.

2. Plant in well-drained soil and do not overwater.

3. They need lots of sun, so keep that in mind when choosing your location.

4. Plant against a fence line, if possible. This will help protect the massive plants, which grow 7 to 8 feet high, from toppling in the wind. (You’ll have to stake them regardless, but the fence helps!)

5. Beware of bugs. Dahlias are prone to spider mites. Plus, Asian beetles and grasshoppers love to nibble on their petals. If you notice any bug problems, get on it right away.

Hopefully, you’ll feel inspired to try planting some of your own next spring. The fall is the perfect time to start saving (or pre-ordering) your bulbs for next year. These plants are in high demand, so don’t wait until April to try to find them. Start looking now!

Munster Rose for W&D_10

And for good measure, here’s a list of other things I like to grow, all of which are perfect to pair with dahlias: mint, rosemary, sage, coleus (yes this can survive as a cut foliage!), sedum, and heuchera. 


BY Kate Arends - October 2, 2014

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October 2, 2014 1:39 pm

Dahlias are one of my favorites! The dinner plate sized ones are just stunning!! Great growing tips, Jackie! Thank you. I’m definitely going to start looking for bulbs right now. 🙂

October 2, 2014 7:10 pm

I just tried growing dahlias for the first time this year with much success! I lived in an apartment so I actually successfully grew them in a pot. I planted them late April and they’ve been blooming since August! Now that we moved and we have a yard to grow things in I will try growing them in the ground, but I’ve heard that in cold places, like here in Vermont the bulbs must be dug up in the winter and kept in some mulch in a cool, damp place until the Spring otherwise they will likely not come up… Read more »

October 2, 2014 9:56 pm

Love dahlias…although i don’t have space to grow plants in my place right now, i love the idea of having my own floral garden someday… these are some great tips..thanks for sharing!



October 3, 2014 3:39 pm

Where is your favorite place to get/order your bulbs from? Dahlia’s are my favorite but I’m always looking for more variety!

October 6, 2014 10:28 am

Christina- So happy to hear you’re also a dahlias lover! Here in MN we too have to dig up bulbs to save them before winter sets in. I’ve had mixed results with this though. It’s hard to find a balanced indoor climate with the correct humidity. Too much moisture will rots the bulbs, and too little will cause them to shrivel. Hope your bulb-saving goes well!

And insecticidal soap is the best bet for spider mites!

October 6, 2014 10:40 am

Kelly! There are SO many options for good dahlia bulbs. Over the years I’ve ordered from larger companies, small wholesalers, and local farms. These are the ones that I’ve had the best luck with:

Aztec Dahlias
American Meadows

Hope that helps!

Alison S
October 6, 2014 11:26 am

Jackie, Would you say that Dahlia’s need western sun or eastern sun? Thanks!

October 6, 2014 10:39 pm

do you have any specific variety recommendations? I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by al the beautiful options

October 8, 2014 4:06 pm

Alison, my best answer is “full sun”. These lovelies can handle all-day, full-on, summer-heat. And they love it. I never like to say “western vs. eastern” since the amount of sun is usually impacted by your surrounding environment (buildings, houses, fences, etc.) Just pick the sunniest spot in your yard, and plant there!

October 8, 2014 4:09 pm

YES! Cafe au Laits are my absolute favorite. Typically the color of this variety varies slightly throughout the season – starting off with a more saturated blush hue and fading to soft ivory as the summer progresses. She’s a beauty.

October 19, 2014 7:09 am

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November 21, 2014 6:20 am

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December 25, 2014 6:04 pm

Will you supply the names of the dahlias you show in the picture?

I think I recognize the Cafe au Laits but the others are also just lovely.


April 5, 2015 2:36 am

What is the font in the first image? Looks great!

Thanks 🙂

September 7, 2015 3:09 pm

What a beautiful garden!

January 11, 2016 4:10 am

[…] {Fotos via: W&D Florals} […]

February 6, 2016 7:39 am

Where can you get dinner plate dahlia seeds? they are so hard to find. I planted them years ago and the company no longer sells them. They were very easy from seed. People would stop and take pictures of my flowers. Any information would be appreciated!

March 27, 2017 11:49 am

Beautiful flowers

March 27, 2017 12:02 pm

I’m in love with Dhalias.

August 25, 2017 2:47 pm


August 25, 2017 2:47 pm

good job

August 25, 2017 2:48 pm


August 30, 2017 1:29 pm

Where is your favorite place to get/order your bulbs from? Dahlia’s are my favorite but I’m always looking for more variety!

August 30, 2017 1:30 pm

love dalias….

March 9, 2018 7:46 am

I have a privacy fence that runs from East to West. Do you think I would be getting too much shade for dahlia’s? I would love to have them all along the fence.

March 28, 2018 6:44 am

starting off with a more saturated blush hue and fading to soft ivory as the summer progresses. She’s a beauty.

September 24, 2018 8:45 pm

all the flowers are beautiful but the dahlias are wonderful

January 18, 2019 11:18 pm

Lindo esse site parabéns

January 22, 2019 9:19 pm

Flowers are the most beautiful life’s meaning. I love flowers

June 16, 2020 5:50 pm

I loved the article! Super easy to understand. I found the website by chance and I’m loving it.

October 1, 2020 6:37 pm

Loved the florals, amazing!!!

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