The ABCs of Dahlia Lingo: Demystifying the Classification of Dahlias

By Annie P (Poochella) on June 9, 2010

A-B-FD-ID-O! Have you ever wondered about the mystifying barrage of alphabet soup following dahlia names? They're not a secret code. Not new fangled grades for fabulous flowers. They're the dahlia classification system short hand intended to identify what size, form, and color of flower to expect when your dahlias bloom. Like most things, using the classification system gets easier with practice. L-E-A-R-N about the C-L-A-S-S-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N of dahlias here and solve the mystery of the alphabet soup.

   Have you ever wondered about the mystifying barrage of alphabet soup following dahlia names?  They are not a secret code. Not new-fangled grades for fabulous flowers. They're the dahlia classification system's shorthand intended to denote what size, form, and color of flower to expect when your dahlia blooms.   Like most things, using the classification system gets easier with practice. L-E-A-R-N about the C-L-A-S-S-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N codes of dahlias here and solve the mystery of the alphabet soup.

Why classification   ?   With over 50,000 varieties of dahlia cultivars known, and more hybridized annually, dahlia representatives gathered and ironed out a generally accepted means of classifying dahlias by their size, form and color.  There are international differences.  People need to know how to best describe a bloom instead "Big, frilly, dark purple." How big? What's frilly? Which purple?  The Dahlia Classification system helps clarify and convey those particulars.

dahlia groupA mere glimpse into the many forms and hundreds of colors presented by the dahlia.


SIZE MATTERS   From the most diminutive round pompon, an inch round globe, to the impressive twelve inch giant, dahlias present an awe-inspiring array of sizes.  In the formal dahlia lingo, here is no such thing as a "dinnerplate" dahlia, though the reference is common.  Those would be an AA or A size dahlia, using proper classification.  But if you say "dinnerplate" everyone will know you have a large bloom on your hands!  Click to see the  size classifications here

Aurwen's Violet a one inch pomponThe one-inch petite pompon.

The jaw-dropping giant Ivory Palaces . Bigger than a volleyball.Ivory Palaces- AA Giant size dahlia


FORM  Refers to the formation of petals;  their characteristic array when fully open. In the realm of dahlias, forms range from the simple single blooms to the very orderly formal decorative, to the frilly laciniated, or the pincushion-like anemone.  See the American Dahlia Society forms classifications here.

 

Juul's Allstar- an example of the star-like orchid bloom.

Juuls Allstar: an orchid dahlia form

 

Alloway Candy: an example of a stellar formAlloway Candy- a stellar form

COLOR  Perhaps the most driving trait for choosing particular dahlias to grow.  From the whitest white to the most blatant bronze,  light blends, dark blends, variegated or flame, dahlias come in all ranges of colors except blue and green.  Blue and green are simply not in their genetic code.  The dominant genes of new seedlings are yellow and orange, so perhaps we should further appreciate the lavenders, purples, pinks, reds and whites that come along.

Colors are graded and assigned numerical tags by the ADS.  Their color chart is available with membership. See the basic ADS color groups here

Examples of yellow: from pale, light, medium to get-the-sunglasses bright.  So many from which to choose!

Cameo- palest yellowChimacum Julia light yellowClearview Irene brighter yellowHale Bopp- canary yellow


Whatever dahlias you grow, once you get used to the basics of dahlia classification, you'll be able to declare "My BB ID LB PK/Y/W is blooming!"  It's just a matter of demystifying the classification code.

Goodwill 90


 


 


 

Related articles:
ADS classification, classification of dahlias, dahlia color, dahlia form, dahlia size

About Annie P
After growing hundreds of dahlias for 16 years, I will publish much of what I learn and cherish about these beauties and their care here. My own emphasis is on cut dahlias for the floral industry. I sell the blooms to support this hobby-gone-wild, but also share the many eye-popping flowers for friends to enjoy. I do not show dahlias for judging, as I somehow find such scrutiny insulting to otherwise perfectly gorgeous blooms! Sorry. It's not my thing.

With very little know-how and a bit of spare time, you too can enjoy the best from your dahlias whether for personal enjoyment, sharing, selling, or showing. There's no time like now to get started with dahlias!

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
E-I-E-I-Oh.... sheryl Jun 29, 2010 6:25 PM 4
Wow valleylynn Jun 18, 2010 2:02 PM 12

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