Discover 10 of the best red dahlias for your garden

red dahlias in border

As regular readers know, we love dahlias here at Gardening Step by Step.

And that is because their vivid colours and varied shapes mean that dahlias offer tremendous rewards to gardeners and flower enthusiasts alike.

However, choosing the right dahlia variety can be a challenge, given the extensive range of dahlias available. But one approach is to start with colour as your guide, rather than flower form.

This, approach allows you to choose dahlias to fit in with the desired look of your garden, complementing the other colours in your border design. It is also a good approach to take when growing dahlias for cut flowers, especially if you already have a clear idea of the colours you want so as to match your decor.

Among the multitude of colours that dahlias come in, red is probably the most powerful – symbolising passion and energy and bringing hot colour to any garden space.

Red dahlias, can transform a garden into a vibrant show, especially when teamed with other hot colours and exotic plants. Check out our feature on orange dahlias for some more inspiration.

This article delves into 10 of the best red dahlias to grow, highlighting their distinct features and why they stand out. Each variety is chosen for its exceptional beauty, ease of growth, and ability to make a dramatic impact in any garden setting.

1. Bishop of Llandaff

Red Dahlia - Bishop of Llandaff

The Bishop of Llandaff is the first dahlia I ever grew and is definitely one of the best red dahlias you can grow.

It is rightly celebrated for its striking contrast between dark bronze-maroon foliage and bright red flowers. This peony-type dahlia brings a classic elegance to any setting, making it a standout choice for gardeners who style and drama in their floral displays.

  • Type: Peony
  • Size: Up to 5 feet (1.5m) tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Single flowers, about 4 inches across.
  • Foliage: Dark bronze-maroon leaves, providing a striking contrast.

2. Dahlia Cornel

Red Dahlia - Cornel

Dahlia Cornel’s deep red sculptural blooms offer a unique texture that shines in the garden. Its robust growth and prolific blooming period make it a reliable and visually stunning addition to any garden, keeping your garden alive with colour and interest over a prolonged period.

Cornel makes a great cut flower. So is worth growing en-masse for lots of stems for the vase.

  • Type: Miniature Ball
  • Size: Grows to about 3 feet (90cm) tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Deep red ball dahlia flowers, around 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
  • Foliage: Lush, green leaves.

3. Dahlia Arabian Night

Red Dahlias - Arabian Night
Image by kind permission of the National Dahlia Society

Dahlia Arabian Night has deep, velvety burgundy red flowers, adding a touch of sophistication and mystery. Ideal for cutting gardens, its blooms are perfect for creating luxurious bouquets that bring the beauty of your garden indoors.

  • Type: Decorative
  • Size: Reaches up to 4 feet (1.2m) in height.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Deep velvety red flowers, 4-5 inches across.
  • Foliage: Bright green, providing a beautiful backdrop.

4. Dahlia Karma Choc

Red Dahlia - Karma Choc
Image by kind permission of the National Dahlia Society

Dramatic and distinctive, Karma Choc features dark red to chocolate brown flowers, offering an almost surreal appeal. Its strong stems and long-lasting blooms make it a favourite for both garden display and floral arrangements. Flowers contrast nicely with the plant’s bushy dark green foliage.

Excellent cut flower, with long vase life.

  • Type: Decorative
  • Size: Up to 3-4 feet tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Dark red to chocolate brown flowers, about 4-6 inches wide.
  • Foliage: Dark green leaves.

5. Dahlia Red Pigmy

Dahlia - Red pigmy
Image by kind permission of the National Dahlia Society

Red Pigmy is one of the smaller red dahlias and perfect for those with limited space. Its compact form and vibrant, semi-cactus blooms make it a charming addition to containers and small garden beds. Despite its miniature size, it packs a colourful punch that can brighten any corner.

  • Type: Semi-Cactus
  • Size: Compact, reaching only about 2 feet (60cm) in height.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Small, ball-shaped flowers, 5-6 inches (12 to 15cm) in diameter.
  • Foliage: Deep green, neat foliage.

6. Dahlia Spartacus

 Dahlias - Spartacus
Dahlia ‘Spartacus’ by F. D. Richards is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With its dinner plate-sized, dramatic, dark velvet-red blooms, Spartacus is a true showstopper. Its towering presence and large flowers make it a real focal point in the garden. This a plant to build your border design.

Grows on strong, straight stems, so makes an ideal cut flower.

  • Type: Dinner Plate
  • Size: Grows up to 4-5 feet (120-150cm) Spread: 50cm (20in)
  • Flower Shape/Size: Huge, striking red flowers, up to 10 inches (25cm) across.
  • Foliage: Lush green, creating a dramatic effect.

7. Dahlia Red Fubuki

 Dahlia - Red fukubi
Dahlia Red Fubuki by Acabashi is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Dahlia Red Fubuki is a popular Dutch raised Dahlia variety. It has large double flowers with peals that sometimes fade to pink at the tips. It grows tall on strong stems, so is also a good dahlia variety for cutting for the vase.

  • Type: Fimbriated
  • Size: Up to 4 feet (1.2m) tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Red double flowers, with fringed fimbriated petals.
  • Foliage: Green, adding to its vibrant appearance.

8. Dahlia Dreamy Lips

Dahlia - Dreamy Lips
Dahlia Dreamy Lips from Concept Plants – Photo by permission of the National Gardening Bureau NGB.org

Looking a bit like the Bishop of Lllandaff’s racy cousin, Dahlia Dreamy Lips has rich red flowers on dark green-bronze foliage. This is a long flowering variety and because of its open flower shape it is attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grow in full sun/part shade in well-drained soil.

  • Type: Peony (double)
  • Size: Reaches about 2 to 3 feet (30cm to 60cm) in height.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Bright red double ring of ray florets, around 3 -4 inches across.
  • Foliage: Green-bronze, contrasting nicely with the vivid flowers.

9. Dahlia Kenora Wildfire

Dahlia Kenora Wildfire
Image by kind permission of the National Dahlia Society

Kenora Wildfire’s fiery red, semi-cactus flowers are a bold and dramatic choice, perfect for making a statement. Its spiky blooms and tall stature add real presence to any garden bed. It is also good for cutting

  • Type: Semi-Cactus
  • Size: Grows to about 4 feet (1.2m) tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Bright red flowers with a spiky appearance, 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25cm) in diameter.
  • Foliage: Dark green.

10. Dahlia Firepot

Dahlia Firepot
Image by kind permission of the National Dahlia Society

Dahlia Firepot is probably not one of the true red dahlias, perhaps it is more of a neon coral (if such a colour exists) with yellow centers. Bit iyt adds spice to your borders and shines out, even on the dullest days. The blooms change tone as they mature, so you get different shades on the plant at the same time.

  • Type: Waterlily
  • Size: About 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120cm) tall.
  • Flower Shape/Size: Bright neon red with yellow centers, 4-5 inches across.
  • Foliage: Green, complementing the fiery blooms.

More on growing dahlias

You can also get much more guidance on growing red dahlias(and all other dahlias) in these posts:

Love Dahlias?I've written the book on them

Check out my comprehensive step by step guide, with plain language explanations and ultra-useful images and illustrations. This is for you if you love dahlias and want to the best out of the dahlias you grow.

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