They say the first step is to admit that you have a problem.

So I'll admit it: I have a dahlia problem.

I've grown around 100 dahlias this year and I estimate there were between 25 and 30 varieties. I try not to count these things too carefully as rejection is easier when you don't have real numbers.

Group of dahlias

Now that the end of the dahlia season is only a few weeks away (if I'm lucky), it is the time of year that I make decisions about which dahlias are worth saving, which ones to grow again next year, and which i & # 39; I will rehome. Which leads me to a little exercise I call: playing favorites.

In that case, if I could, what dahlias would I grow if I could only grow five varieties?

5. PENHILL DARK MONARCH

Penhill Dark Monarch Dahlia

In my limited dahlia palette, I only allow myself a real Biggie and in this case the deep pink "Penhill Dark Monarch" hardly displaces its sister "Penhill Watermelon". Both have striped petals and the changing colors of the watermelon, which I grew for the first time this year, really captured my heart. But Dark Monarch has a depth that I like, and I feel like it works better when you hold up those heavy buds. These are both really large dahlias that need serious use.

Penhill watermelon dahlia

Runner-up, Penhill Watermelon, is tall, bold, a little curly, and some flowers are as big as my head.

4. NUIT D & # 39; ETE

Nuit d & # 39; été Dahlia

& # 39; Nuit d & # 39; Été & # 39; brings deep color and great texture.

You need to have some variation if you want to grow just a few strains. I think a dark dahlia is required. "Nuit d" Ete "is a cactus that also brings a lot of texture variation. It's not perfect: it's bigger and really needs to be staked out. I wish the stems were a little stronger. But for color and shape it's difficult to get it to do better. "Jowey Mirella," a perfect ball that is almost as dark, is a close second.

3. CAFÉ AU LAIT

Cafe au lait dahlias of different colors

These are all café au lait.

Did you know it was going to come right? I like to be a little unpredictable, so it pains me a little to put everyone's favorite dahlia on this list. But every time another large (but not large) dahlia comes into my life that I believe is taking "Café au Lait" off the list, I find a reason why Cafe is better. The color changes quite a lot, from light brown to almost medium pink, but all are very pleasant colors that go with anything in a vase. It's also a nice size for a vase. Very large dahlias just don't play well with others in bouquets. Second in this category are "Breakout" and "Labyrinth".

Cafe au lait ostrich

A bouquet of dahlias from Café au Lait that show off the buff color of the late season.

Cafe au lait dahlia

A perfect pink "Cafe au Lait" flower.

2. HS DATE

HS Date single dahlia

Many people don't even notice that the bright orange single flower that curves very nicely across the path (the deflopper is not required) is a dahlia with the dark olive, almost black foliage. But it is. HS stands for Happy Single and I can't think of a better name for this series which includes several other colors. I've grown at least three of these and found that the clear orange from "HS Date", which appears to have larger flowers than the others, is my favorite.

1. CRICHTON HONEY

Crichton honey ball dahlia

My weakness for ball dahlias led me to "Crichton Honey" a few years ago and it still charms me today. The colors vary widely from pure salmon to butter yellow to tangerine and often all three at the same time. It blooms early and clears tons of flowers by frost and requires very little staking out. I have photos of "Crichton Honey" on most things "The Impatient Gardener," so it's likely that the Dahlia people are the most connected to me just because they see it the most. There is always a spot at the front of the terrace garden where I like to see it mix with the purple foliage of the Wild Magic basil.

Garden with boxwood, dahlias, hydrangeas

That's "Crichton Honey" on the front, hidden behind the basil of the large purple plants ("Wild Magic").

The choice was not easy. Every moment I fall in love with a different dahlia. With that in mind, I'll put a big asterisk here: This list is bound to change. Because I'm willing to put in hard work and grow way too many dahlias to find more favorites.