The best dahlias for you and the bees have centers that bees can reach through what are sometimes many layers of petals.
If you’re not sure which ones these might be by flipping through catalogs, a sure bet is to look for dahlias referred to as single or single-flowered dahlias like this ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’ from Breck’s Bulbs (above). Single-flowered dahlias have a single whorl of petals surrounding a very easy to find center where the business of pollination happens.
I first learned of these single, simple dahlias when reading Dave Goulson’s book, The Garden Jungle. In it, he encourages readers to discover the “wildlife under our noses” and guides readers as to how we can easily grow more of it (meaning wildlife and biodiversity) with thoughtful planting — which then led me to find his lists of plants for bees. And there, lo and behold! He included ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ as one of his all-time favorites. So, I did a quick search for this ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and I immediately knew I had to plant it.
Choosing the Best Dahlias for You and Your Garden
Now, I haven’t always grown dahlias. I added them to my planting list about 5 years ago and started with the ones that made me swoon. Varieties like ‘Black Jack,’ ‘Evanah,’ and ‘Tangerine Queen.’ They’re all so lovely. But I did notice that, while I adored each and every one of them, the pollinators were far from interested.
So really, Dave Goulson’s recommendation came at just the right time. Because my garden is relatively small, everything I plant needs to provide multiple services. Sure, I grow plants simply because I love them — growing what you love is what it’s all about, right? At least on one level. But there’s something really wonderful too about growing what you love and also growing a better garden — one that makes difference to you, your community, and the greater environment.
Plants with Multiple-Services
Plants with multiple services are plants like chamomile, for instance. It’s beneficial to a wide variety of pollinators like hoverflies and also to insects like ladybugs. You can add the blooms to a medicinal tea and the scent of chamomile in the garden helps to deter pests.
Other plants, like thyme and oregano, are fabulous culinary herbs that double as companion plants and pollinator meccas.
With dahlias, you can enjoy them in your garden for their beauty and also add them to bouquets. They also make wonderful gifts, either when flowering or as tubers in spring. That said, they also have a habit of multiplying through the seasons, so you could plant them once and share extras with friends and family.
If you were to grow single-flowered dahlias, you would have all of these benefits as well as blooms that attract and support pollinators. I found mine at Breck’s Bulbs. See their catalog here.
12 Single-Flowered Dahlia Cultivar’s to Consider
- ‘Yellow Bird’
- ‘Ian Hislop’
- ‘Bishop of Llandaff’
- ‘Twynings Candy’
- ‘Teesbrooke Audrey’
- ‘Bishop of Auckland’
- ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’
- ‘Magenta Star’
- ‘Joe Swift’
- ‘Chocolate Sundae’
- ‘Kelsey Annie Joy’
- ‘Night Butterfly’
*This article is sponsored and paid for by Breck’s Bulbs. Breck’s Bulbs also supplied the many wonderful dahlias I’m growing as seen here in this article.
Other articles you might enjoy:
Bee Friendly Plants for your Garden
5 Reasons to Shrink Your Lawn and Mow Less
Episode 10 of the Grow What You Love podcast: Talking Hyper-local Food, Regenerative Organics, and Farm-to-Crag with Professional Climber Kate Rutherford