Dalaya Series Dahlia

FN1.10 DAH Dalaya Red Yellow Eye
Dalaya Red + Yellow Eye’ opens mostly red…

Sometimes choice can be good but sometimes it can be confusing; this is the situation for Dahlias. Types, sizes, and colors ramble all over the place so most people reach for a general mix of the good stuff. That, in fact, is our Garden Pride Mix. It’s our long-time best seller in this category because it makes Dahlias drop-dead easy to order.

This deer-in-the-headlights daze, however, can blind us to some truly fun breeding that’s happening in the industry. Take the unusual color-changing behavior of the Dalaya series as our case-in-point. We originally selected it because we needed to serve the right size of Dahlia: not too small, not too dinner-plate, decent vigor but not off-the-charts, and lots of interesting colors gathered into a series so they all perform equally well in the garden. Yes, the Dalayas check those boxes but a funny thing happened…

FN1.09 DAH Dalaya Red Yellow Eye
…but completely changes to a yellow sunburst—quite a difference


Long-time readers know we love plants that change over time. Pronounced Delilah (of Samson fame), the Dalaya series comes out of Selecta’s European breeding programs. They hit all the quality points of modern breeding such as big blooms, disease-resistance, and uniform plant height. Overall, their signature feature is exotic bicolors; however, we discovered that most—not all—of their cultivars change their personalities over time, and this just cranked up the fun quotient for us.

FN1.07 DAH Dalaya Red White
Dalaya Red + White’ has pinstripes with strong contrast—this one stays put

Each cultivar has its own change, and the joy is in the discovery. For one it’s the halo; the striping morphs for another; sometimes the color tint is different. It means that the beautiful plant you had last week is not the beautiful plant you will get next week. This makes the daily garden walk a real treat. 

FN1.02 DAH Dalaya Pink Lemon
Dalaya Pink + Lemon’ has a sharp clear eye…


We led the article with our favorite example: ‘Dalaya Red + Yellow Eye’. It opens red with a soft halo around its young eye; however, it matures into a full-blown sunburst with red tinges at the petal edges. Another example we show is ‘Dalaya Pink + Lemon’. It starts with a clear yellow eye cut out of a pink flower, but the two colors blend with paintbrush stripes as the flower ages. Selecta breeders chose their colors well, so their changing behavior just makes them seem more alive.

FN1.01 DAH Dalaya Pink Lemon
…but blends the colors with paintbrush stripes as it ages


You won’t know this from the names, however. They underpromise the plants quite a bit—to the point of being barebones. It’s a simple formula (base color + highlight) but to understand these blooms it’s necessary to enhance the names with comments.

Here are three pinks:

  • ‘Dalaya Pink + Lemon’ (look at the halo—it starts crisp, then blends into the tips)
  • ‘Dalaya Pink + Yellow Eye' (comes with pink paintbrush stripes)
  • ‘Dalaya Pink + White’ (a graduated shift from light center to dark tips)

Along with two reds:

  • ‘Dalaya Red + White’ (peppermint stripes where the red changes over time)
  • ‘Dalaya Red + Yellow Eye’ (small yellow halo that turns into a big sunburst)

And two yellows:

  • ‘Dalaya Yellow’ (a bright solid—no changes here)
  • ‘Dalaya Yellow + Red Eye’ (bursts of red in the center; has an orange-y effect from a distance)

FN1.05 DAH Dalaya Pink Yellow Eye
Dalaya Pink + Yellow Eye’ has paintbrush stripes along its petals


Better still, all this fun stuff is easily accessible to the beginner gardener. Dahlia is one of the easiest flowers to grow for anyone who lacks a green thumb. It’s not meant for construction soil, but it flourishes in nearly any typical garden bed in the area. All it needs is full sun and the typical garden’s supply of water, so it’s a good choice for the young and the inexperienced.

We sell seven different Dalaya cultivars in the 8-inch pot, a perfect garden-ready size for these exotic Dahlias. It’s hard to say exotic here when so many Dahlias already seem exotic to the typical consumer; but in this case the Dalaya series delivers a little something extra that the others don’t have.

FN1.14 DAH Dalaya Yellow Red Eye
The red burst in the center of ‘Dalaya Yellow + Red Eye’ grows over time

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Diefenbacher Greenhouses is a supplier of annuals and creative green goods. We sell directly to Garden Centers and Landscapers in the Cincinnati Area. 

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