Café au Lait DahliasDid your Instagram blow up last summer with photo after photo of the ubiquitous Dahlia ‘Café au Lait’? Yeah, I’m very sorry for doing that!

Café au Lait Dahlias 2Add me to the list of gardeners who in the past few seasons became obsessed with the coloring, shape and size of this “dinner-plate” dahlia. In fact, my feed was inundated with photos of them, too. After someone posted a photo of a different kind of dahlia a commenter added the hashtag #thankgodnotanothercafeaulait which gave me a chuckle… and pause.

It’s not hard to love this one. The coloring from one flower to the next is really quite remarkable. Observe:

Café au Lait Dahlias 6 Café au Lait Dahlias 7Café au Lait Dahlias 8

Did you spot the ladybug in the top photo?

Café au Lait Dahlias 3To be perfectly frank, it wasn’t long ago that I really didn’t give a flying squirrel about dahlias. I feel like admitting to other gardeners that you don’t like dahlias is the equivalent of saying you don’t like puppies. They were nice looking, I suppose, but not something I was very interested in growing.

Café au Lait Dahlias 4That was before I discovered a neighboring garden with an enviable collection reliably blooming every summer and causing more than one detour to drive by and gawk. Casually, I mentioned to the Mister that maybe someday I would try growing Dahlias with more enthusiasm and about a week later I was informed I’d won a Floret Dahlia Giveaway! (I’ve also tried casually mentioning that I wouldn’t mind being financially independent and living in the English countryside but sadly haven’t “won” that one, yet.)

Café au Lait Dahlias 5So into the ground went a bunch of tubers and all late last summer and well into autumn they bloomed like crazy. I was feeling pretty sassy snipping and Instagramm-ing flower after flower (#pleasegodnomorephotosofjapanesebonsaiscissors) and I think I became a new dahlia convert. Here are some of the other ones that graced our garden last summer:

doodlebug 10-15-1 doodlebug 10-17-1 doodlebug 10-17-2‘Doodlebug’ was a recent (2014) introduction and purchased at Swan Island Dahlias. The coloring was a bit “off” at times, like was it deep pink? dark red? burnt orange? Couldn’t figure this one out. But it was a prolific bloomer!

mystery dahlia 10-15-1 mystery dahlia 10-15-2Here’s one that I received in the Floret giveaway. Not sure of the name, but this baby glowed like neon!

dahlia 10-17-1 dahlia 10-17-2A deeper reddish/pink dahlia from the giveaway…

dahlia 11-5-1And another seen here in this collage in a much brighter yellow. Sorry I don’t have more individual photos of this one taken on my camera; I think I instagrammed more of those, though.

dahlia 10-18-1They all look so pretty together though, don’t they?

digging up the dahliasIn early autumn, I carefully dug up the clumps and couldn’t believe my eyes with how big the tubers had gotten in such a short period of time. People, these tubers were like the size of my thumb, and singles, when I planted them. I hope to add some more pale pink varieties next season because I don’t normally go for the hot colors. Any suggestions which to try?

Café au Lait and Lucy

19 thoughts on “#thankgodnotanothercafeaulait

  1. Oh, I LOVE dahlias! Those are gorgeous. My favorite thing about dahlias in general is that they’re so easy to grow and always come out looking exactly like the pictures on the packages. From potato to perfect!

    Those colors are gorgeous. I love pastels and delicate-colored flowers, and for some reason most retailers seem all crazy about selling hot-colored things. Maybe a summertime theme gone wrong? I don’t know.

    My absolute favorite is ‘Bristol Stripe.’ I have a thing for peppermint-stripedy flowers. This year I’m adding some deep dark ‘Fubuki Maroon’ to set them off. Another one that I like is ‘Creme de Cassis,’ which has smaller, soft medium-lavender flowers edged in dark blackberry-juice purple. With purple stems! Scrumptious.

    I only ever have two problems with dahlias. One: staking. Which is my fault. I don’t have a fence to grow them on, and I’d forgotten how heavy the plants get. Two: all of mine seem to like to bloom facing southeast, so my neighbors got the full effect.

    How do you store the tubers over the winter? This was the first year I’d ever done that, and I’m not sure if my methods were the greatest. The other day I took the whole mess of them and planted them in pots in my makeshift greenhouse.

    1. Thank you thank you thank you for your dahlia suggestions! I love them all! Can you tell me where you like to purchase your tubers? I have tried to look up a mail order nursery that carries Creme De Cassis and can’t find one.

      I have a problem with staking, too, and this is simply laziness on my part. I hope to do better next spring. 😉

      As for storing, I literally tossed them in an open paper bag and put them in my garage. I do not hold out hope that they will come through winter but you never know. Floret describes how she stores for winter here, if you’re interested!

      Thanks again for the suggestions!

      1. Ha, I did the old paper bag trick, too. I had intended to put some peat moss in and mist them slightly, but I never did. They’re not moldy and they’re not dried out, so I’m assuming they’re alive.

        I buy most of my tubers at a local specialty gardening center. It looks like they order some of their dahlias from the Netherland Bulb Company. I’ve not had any personal experience with them, but ‘Bristol Stripe’ did great.

        I think I found my ‘Creme de Cassis’ at Wal-Mart. Because they keep those things by the cash register and I have no self-control. Aaaand I think I killed them. If I find anywhere that sells them, I will let you know, because I’m pining for them!

        (I sort of have the habit of saving up for high-quality plants and then buying up lots of cheap sketchy ones online. As long as it’s only a couple dollars, it can be kind of fun. Is it a flower bulb? Is it a potato? Is it marijuana? Don’t try this at home, kids.)

        Oh, and ‘Lake Tahoe’ is another one that caught my eye.

        1. HAHAHA You crack me up!!! 😀

          Thank you for the suggestions and I’m glad I’m not alone in the paper bag trick, hee hee. I just ordered some more Café au Laits from Floret just in case they don’t pull through. Going to check out Netherland Bulb Co!

  2. I can’t believe how beautiful these pictures are. And are you serious about the size of those tubers? Really? I think you might have gotten me off my indifference to planting them myself (work of digging up each) into thinking some dahlias might just lift my spirits and make it all worth while. Thank you for bring summer into a winter’s day.

    1. Totally serious! It was like digging up buried treasure. Way cool. And if I somehow manage to have the tubers survive their very poor winter storage (see comment above) then you will be getting some divisions this spring!

  3. I found your website when I was when I was searching for Roses of course :). My love of dahlias started last year. I think I was put off because I thought they would be hard to grow but boy was I wrong. I absolute love them. I test trial 10 different varieties and discarded a few due (growing cutting garden flowers for my business).

    I did not stake my dahlias at all and they were buried about 3-4 inches deep (wrong depth need at least 6 inches). I find if I constantly cut them they are okay or they will fall over due to an OVERABUNDANCE of blooms (pinch those baby when they are small to get lots of bloom).

    I absolutely love Cafe Au laite mainly the color is so diverse.. every week there is something different. IF you are wanting a pale pink variety you might try Alloway Candy.

    Thank so much for your beautiful pictures and it is nice reading about another *obessive* plant lovers.. 😉

    1. Hello and welcome! So nice to have you here and thank you very much for the tip about Alloway Candy. That is a beautiful shade of pink and just what I’m looking for. Glad you enjoyed the roses! 🙂

  4. I have grown dahlias in the past. My love for them has waned. But it’s back again after reading this post. I must have the cafe au lait. And I will.

    1. Haha! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 I think Floret still has some Café au Lait available here if you’re looking for a source…

  5. One of my BEST purchases was Kogane Fubuki from Lowes. Last summer they grew unbelievable! Many many blooms & the variety of color in each flower is amazing. Peachy-Pink-Yellow. Compliments a range of flowers including red hot poker, coreopsis, & snapdragons(one of my favorites). I can hardly wait to see them blooming again.

    1. Just did an image search for Kogane Fubuki and WOW. Jaw dropping! Definitely keeping an eye out for this one, thank you for the tip!

  6. Swoon! These photos are gorgeous. I think I’m going to have to pick a specific variety or two to grow this year. Last year my dahlias were a random assortment (that didn’t even match the packaging — which I guess is what I get for buying cheapo tubers). And yes, I can’t help but be swayed by Cafe au Lait.

  7. Those tubers are HUGE! could you describe how you grew them? (what kind of fertilizer especially) any bone meal? wizard of oz is a good pink….

    1. Aren’t they crazy? The soil there was heavily amended with compost but outside of that, no fertilizers were used. We’ve recently moved and I’ve barely worked on improving the soil here. No surprise that the dahlias in the new garden are rather puny. Rich soil is key! 🙂

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