2021’s Most Coveted Flowers? Pale Dahlias for the Garden

The Four Percent


DAHLIAS HAVE ALWAYS conferred magnificence to the late-summer garden. The blooms are enormous—“dinner plate” dahlias span 10 inches. Traditionally, their colors are equally unmousey: bottomless purples, regal fuchsias and velvety reds. But lately, dahlia worshipers are giving priority to softer shades of splendor. Creamy, understated pastels are in. “I think it has something to do with wedding trends,” said Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret farm, in Mount Vernon, Wash., and author of the new book “Discovering Dahlias” (Chronicle Books). “Blush, champagne, buttercream—those colors have become really popular in the last couple of years, and there’s extra frenzy to find varieties in that palette.”

Ceramist Frances Palmer plants hundreds of dahlia tubers each spring outside her 1860s home in Weston, Conn., including Café au Lait, a ruffled pale-pink and ivory variety whose popularity many experts attribute to a 2010s endorsement in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. In her garden, Ms. Palmer mixes the cultivar with similarly pallid species such as milky Sally Holmes roses and white Japanese anemones. Grow an assortment of dahlia shapes, she urges, from ball to waterlily, so your bouquets vary in “form and shape as well as a nuance of color.”

Here, a few delicately toned beauties new to market, with their price per tuber.


Swan Island Dahlias, an Oregon business nearly a century old, hybridized this pearly, peachy specimen with a 4-inch wingspan of quilled “semi-cactus” petals. In development for five years before coming to market in 2021, the dark-stemmed plant reportedly blooms prolifically. Preorder August 1 for 2022, $30, dahlias.com


This 5-foot-tall choice produces dahlias in what’s known as the formal decorative style: tightly wound, in a good way. Named for the lavender hue of a milkshake made with the Oregon-bred marionberry—a type of blackberry born in 1956—it offers all the creamy satisfaction of a diner malt with none of the calories. $30, dahlias.com


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