Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’

Alan Titchmarsh’s favourite dahlias

Alan Titchmarsh loves dahlias. Discover his pick of the very best to grow.

I love dahlias. I bought my first named varieties when I was 16, and because I lived in Yorkshire I had to keep them indoors until the beginning of June – the Dales got regular frosts even in late May back in the 1960s. The only place I could put them was on top of the storage heater just inside our front door. Going up and down the stairs became increasingly like entering a tropical jungle, so fast did those young dahlia plants grow.

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I plant dahlias in any gaps I spot in my beds and borders – and there are always a few, where something has died out or been moved. I’d like to tell you that I plan their positioning carefully, but I don’t – they’re scattered like confetti, with just a thought or two as to whether their colour will shriek unpleasantly at their neighbour. I think you can be too controlling in a garden – colour clashes make you sit up and take notice. Unless they bring tears to your eyes, they give a garden vibrancy.

More on growing dahlias

Browse my list of five favourite dahlias, below.


Dahlia ‘Biddenham Strawberry’

Dahlia ‘Biddenham Strawberry’. Getty Images
Dahlia ‘Biddenham Strawberry’. Getty Images

Dahlia ‘Biddenham Strawberry’ is a small-flowered decorative dahlia. The rich pink petals are yellow at the base.

Height: 1.5m


Dahlia ‘Primrose Diane’

Dahlia ‘Primrose Diane’
Dahlia ‘Primrose Diane’

Dahlia ‘Primrose Diane’ is a small decorative dahlia with lovely, pale-yellow flowers.

H: 100cm


Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’

Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’
Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’

Dahlia ‘Bora Bora’ is a vividly colourful cactus dahlia, that produces its large flowers for months.

H: 100cm


Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Dahlia ‘David Howard’. Getty Images
Dahlia ‘David Howard’. Getty Images

Dahlia ‘David Howard’ is a miniature decorative dahlia with soft orange flowers and dark purple-bronze foliage. Copes well with lighter soil.

H: 100cm


Dahlia ‘Kenora Valentine’

Dahlia ‘Kenora Valentine’. Getty Images
Dahlia ‘Kenora Valentine’. Getty Images

Dahlia ‘Kenora Valentine’ is a giant decorative type with brilliant red flowers and pointed petals.

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H: 1.5m