Dahlias are a popular garden plant, at rightfully so as for few other plants offer the gardener such a variation in colour and form, flowering from July until the first frost in November. Here nurserywoman and dahlia expert, Helen Lewis from Ferdinandushof nursery in the Netherlands creates a gorgeous planting scheme for dahlias and complementary grasses and perennials.

Container combination using Ferdinandushof dahlia
Nurserywoman Helen Lewis calls this planting combination 'Fireball' and combines oranges, yellows, reds and limes with rich purples to create a dramatic effect.

Dahlias to use in the display

  1. Dahlia ‘Gold Crown’ Robust, light orange semi-cactus dahlia. Height (H) 1.2m. Flower diameter (FD) 17cm.
  2. D. ‘Viking’ Cardinal-red, pompom dahlia that makes a very delicate cut flower.
  3. D. ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ A favourite British cultivar that dates from 1928 with carmine-red flower heads and a yellow heart. Glossy, dark green-black foliage. H 95cm. FD10cm. Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
  4. D. ‘My Love’ Creamy white cactus dahlia with fresh, green foliage. Makes an excellent cut flower. H 1.2m. fD 14cm. H 1m. fD 6cm.
  5. D. ‘David Howard’ A decorative British cultivar introduced in 1965. Intense, double orange flower heads that look superb against contrasting dark green-black foliage. H 1m. fD 10cm. AGM.

Plants to combine with dahlias

Hedychium densiflorum

One of the hardiest ornamental ginger lilies, these easy-growing rhizomes produce stems with lush green foliage and spiky, light orange flowers. Blooms from July to September. Grows to perfection in semi-shade but can also thrive in full sun. May require a winter mulch in very cold gardens.

Height 90cm. Hardiness USDA 8b-10b.


Salvia Amistad

This stunning new salvia from Argentina flowers endlessly from June until December. Vivid purple flowers with contrasting black calyces are set off against fresh green foliage. Container plants need to overwinter in a frost-free place, while plants in the ground benefit from a thick mulch applied in autumn. Plants are root hardy to about -10°C. Drought tolerant.

Height 1m. Hardiness USDA 8a-11.

Echinacea purpurea ‘Green Jewel’

A beautiful cone-flower with lovely pale green flowers, attractive to butterflies. Bred in the Netherlands by plantsman Piet Oudolf, it combines perfectly with orange and purple. Plant in full sun.

Height 65cm. Hardiness USDA 3b-9b.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Cassian’s Choice’

Exceptional, fairly compact fountain grass with airy light brown flower bristles that turn a glorious golden-brown in autumn. Plant in a sunny, well-drained place. Named after Cassian Schmidt from Hermannshof gardens in Germany.

Height 90cm.Hardiness USDA 5a-9b.

Crocosmia x crocosmioides ‘Fire King’

This mid-height, graceful cultivar has a relaxed, natural look that combines perfectly with low grasses, such as Stipa tenuissima. Plant in sunny, well-drained soil. Does well as a cut flower. Hardy.

Height 70cm. Hardiness USDA 5a-9b.

Helenium ‘Loysder Wieck’

Distinctive flowers with rolled orange petals resembling a mass of tiny spinning wheels. Grows best in a sunny position, deadheading will prolong flowering. Blooms from July until September. Attractive to bumble bees.

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Height 1m.

Find more information on hardiness ratings here


Images Maayke de Ridder