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Dahlia Plants With Black Leaves

A Mystic Enchantment dahlia (Dahlia 'Mystic Enchantment') seen in Minter Gardens in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
Dllu, CC SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

True Black Foliage Is Quite Rare

True black foliage is rare, if non-existent, in the natural world, but many plants, including dahlias, sport almost black leaves. Generally, these leaves are a deep greenish-purple or a dark mahogany color. But dahlias with dark foliage provide an excellent focal point or contrast in the landscape when so many more plants are green-leaved.

The genus ‌Dahlia‌ (USDA zones 7 to 10) is composed of more than 20,000 cultivars, of which most are hybrids of ‌Dahlia pinnata‌ and ‌Dahlia coccinea‌. Plant hybridizers have had a heyday with dahlias, and home gardeners have a veritable cornucopia of cultivars to choose from.

Be aware that some are less cold hardy than others. So even if you are technically located within their hardiness zones, you may need to lift the tubers in the fall and replant them in the spring.

The Happy Single® Series

An entire group of dwarf dahlias, called the Dahlia Happy Single® series, are bred to have dark foliage. These all have single rows of petals, hence the name "happy single," and most have very dark foliage.

Among the standout specimens with dark leaves of this series are:

  • Happy Single® Juliet‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'HS Juliet'): very dark green leaves and deep pink flowers with dark yellow centers.
  • Happy Single® Party‌ (‌Dahlia‌ ‘HS Party’): dark bronze foliage and creamy yellow flowers with deep yellow-orange centers.
  • Happy Single® Princess‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'HS Princess'): almost-black foliage—perhaps the deepest, darkest-leaved cultivar in this group—and white petals tinged with pink surrounding warm yellow centers.
  • Happy Single‌® ‌Kiss‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'HS Kiss'): dark green-bronze foliage and warm peach-toned petals with bronze-red centers.
A close-up of a very pink flower of a Happy Single® Juliet (Dahlia 'HS Juliet'), with its dark foliage.
Andy Mabbett, CC SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dahlia Mystic Series

The Dahlia Mystic series is another group of compact, dwarf dahlias bred with deep, dark foliage, usually mahogany colored. Here are some popular cultivars in this series:

  • Dahlia Mystic Illusion‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Mystic Illusion' syn. 'Knockout'): purple-to-black foliage and lemon-yellow petals surrounding a brown-orange center.
  • Dahlia Mystic Wonder‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Mystic Wonder' syn. 'Velvet'): purple-black foliage—this cultivar has deep red petals surrounding a deep yellow center.
  • Dahlia Mystic Haze‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Mystic Haze' syn. 'Dark Side of the Sun'): deep mahogany to black foliage and creamy apricot-orange petals surrounding a dark center.
  • Dahlia Mystic Spirit‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Mystic Spirit' syn. 'Best Bett'): deep bronze foliage and pale, pinkish-white petals marked by a visible magenta stripe surrounding a dark brown center.

Other Popular Dark-Leaved Dahlias

Other well-known and loved dark-leaved dahlias include:

  • Fascination‌ (‌Dahlia‌ ‘Fascination’): deep bronze foliage and semi-double flowers in a violet-rose color surrounding a dark center.
  • Bishop of Llandaff‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Bishop of Llandaff’): bronze foliage and single flowers in a warm red surrounding deeper red centers.
  • Groovy‌ (‌Dahlia‌ 'Groovy'): dark purple foliage and coral-red, semi-double petals surrounding a dark center.
A close-up of the deep red flowers of the Bishop of Llandaff dahlia (Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff’), with its dark foliage.
Mike Peel, CC SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Landscaping With Black-Foliage Dahlias

Plants with dark foliage, and black dahlia plants in particular, look fabulous when planted en masse to create a powerful statement in a sunny part of the garden. Alternatively, place them near plants with paler green or whitish foliage for a visual pop.

Any dahlia also looks great in a container, which also helps to control the plant's environment if you live in a location colder than its growing zones.

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