Chrysanthemums and Dahlias, What’s the Difference Between of Them?

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemums spp.) and dahlia (Dahlia spp.) are look alike. Some people actually often call chrysanthemums dahlia and vice versa. While it is true that they look similar, especially when it comes to the appearances, they are actually two different things and they have a few key differences. What are these?

The first difference of chrysanthemums and dahlias is history. Chrysanthemum is known to be native to China. It has a long history. It even included in the writings of Confucius. Not only China, this plant is also popular in Japan and is the symbol of Japan’s emperors.

Chrysanthemums vs Dahlias

Meanwhile, dahlia is native to the warm and sunny climate of central Mexico. The Aztecs loved to grow this plant and get the tuberous roots. In the 1500s, the explorers from Spain took tubers back to Europe. In past only the upper class enjoyed this plant but today this plant has become a plant commonly found in gardens and has been accepted by many people.

Contrary to the popular beliefs, chrysanthemums and dahlias differ in their appearances, even though they may look similar depending on the cultivar. These two have pompon cultivars with small and circular flowers. When it comes to the color, chrysanthemums tend to have the autumn colors such as yellow, gold, purple, orange, and pink while dahlias bloom in all colors with the exception of blue. If you cannot spot the difference, you can look at their leaves. Chrysanthemums usually have delicate and lacy looking leaves with a lot of lobes while dahlias usually have ovate leaves with pointed tips and slightly serrated edges.

Aside from the history and the appearance, the method to care is also different. Both chrysanthemums and dahlias do not tolerate cold weather. For your information, chrysanthemums have deeper and non tuberous roots and usually overwinter really well in the cold areas. There is a possibility of the hybrids to tolerate cold. On the other hand, dahlias produce shallow and tuberous roots. It is also possible for them to get through the winters as long as the gardeners lift and store the roots in the autumn.

Despite having some similarities, chrysanthemums and dahlias can be easily told apart as they are different. If you want to know the other differences of these two plants, you might want to check out this one below:

Comparation Chrysanthemum Dahlia
Life Span Perennial Annual
Type Shrubs Tender Perennial
Origin Asia, Northeastern Europe Hybrid origin
Types Garden mum, Tricolor chrysanthemum, Indian chrysanthemum, Corn marigold Gabrielle Marie, Brittany Rey
Number of Varieties 13 200
Habitat By seashore, grassland, thickets Mountains, upland
USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9 8-11
AHS Heat Zone 9-2 12-1
Sunset Zone 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 H1, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Habit Clump forming Clump forming
Minimum Height 2.50 cm 30.50 cm
Minimum Width 1.50 cm 30.50 cm
Flower Color Burgundy, green, lavender, orange, pink, purple, red, salmon, white, yellow Light pink, rose, salmon, ivory
Flower Color Modifier Bicolor Bicolor
Fruit Color Brown, not available Not available
Leaf Color in Spring Dark green Green
Leaf Color in Summer Green, sea green Green
Leaf Color in Fall Green, sea green Green
Leaf Color in Winter Not available Light green
Leaf Shape Ovate Arrowhead
Thorns 15% 7%
Plant Season Fall, summer Spring, summer, fall
Sunlight Full sun Full sun
Growth Rate Fast Fast
Type of Soil Well drained Loam, sand
The pH of Soil Neutral, slightly acidic Neutral
Soil Drainage Well drainage Well drainage
Bloom Time Early fall, fall, late fall, late summer Indeterminate
Repeat Bloomer 46% 72%
Tolerances Not available Drought
Place to Plant Ground Container, ground, pot
Method of Planting Grafting, seedlings, transplanting From bulbs
Plant Maintenance Medium Medium
Watering Requirements You will have to form a soil ring to water efficiently. Overwatering is a bad idea as it can lead the leaf issues or root diseases. Instead of over head watering, drip irrigation is better. It requires regular watering. You are recommended to use mulches to help preventing the water loss during the extreme, hot, and windy weather.   Do not over water. It requires regular watering, especially in growing season. Please water deeply and water more in the summer.  
Soil pH Neutral, slightly acidic Acidic, neutral
Soil Type Well drained Clay, loam, sand
Soil Drainage Capacity Well drained Well drained
Sun Exposure Full sun Full sun, partial sun
Pruning Pinch of cut the steams. Pruning is good to shorten the long shoots. If you want to improve the share of the plant, prune is needed. This method is also effective to control the growth. Do not forget to also remove the shoots. You will have to get rid of the damaged leaves, dead branches, and dead leaves.
Fertilizers All purpose liquid fertilizer Feed them every 2-3 weeks while growing.
Pets and Diseases Aphids, caterpillars, spider mites, thripes, powdery mildew, rhizoctonia stem rot, slugs, cutworms, botrytis head rot Red blotch
Plant Tolerance Drought Drought
Foliage Texture Medium Medium
Foliage Sheen Matte Matte
Attracts Butterflies Butterflies, insects
Allergy Asthma, hay fever, eczema, skin rash, inflammation to sinuses or hives Skin rash, skin irritation, eczema
Aesthetic Uses Beautification, showy purposes, bouquets Not available
Environmental Uses Air purification Air purification, food for insects, food for animals
Medical Uses Chest pain, high blood pressure, swelling, headache, diabetes Kidney problems
Other Uses It is employed in herbal medicine. It used as ornamental plant.   Economic purpose, decoration purpose, used as food, showy purposes, used as ornament plant

It should be easy for you to tell which one is chrysanthemum and which one is dahlia if you read everything well. Feel free to ask the professionals if you still have a hard time spotting the difference.


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