1. Double Peonies (Paeonia Spp.)
Looking at the famous globular blooms of dahlias, we can see strong similarities with double peonies.
There are many varieties that fit this description, from the champagne yellow ‘Prairie Charm’ to ‘Pink Derby’ and the snow white ‘Bowl of Cream’ (Paeonia lactifolia ‘Bowl of Cream’).
However, the petals are never arranged as regularly and sculpturally as they are in pompon dahlias like the fabulous ‘Andrea Dawson’ or the flaming red ‘Brown Sugar’.
On the other hand, the wild and unkempt looking ‘Cora Stubbs’ looks like a collarette variety, and ‘Red Emperor’ may even remind you of a semi cactus dahlia!
Of course, peonies have different foliage, less glossy, but very finely textured, which makes them ideal for borders, while their blooms are only suitable to informal garden styles, unlike some dahlias that can fit well in formal settings.
2. Double Zinnias (Zinnia Spp.)
Of all the flowers in the world, those that look most like double, even pompon dahlias are double zinnias.
In fact, some varieties almost have the same regular arrangement of petals as we find in dahlias, like the huge ‘Binary’s Giant Golden Yellow’ whose blooms reach 6 inches across (15 cm), or the equally massive ‘Binary’s Giant Lilac’ but maybe the prize for the fullest blossom of all goes to the magenta pink ‘Miss Willmott’ which is 3 inches in diameter (7.5 cm).
And the cultivar ‘Inca’ could well be confused for a cactus dahlia, with its long, pointed and slightly curving petals.
The foliage of all these varieties is herbaceous and pointed, mid to dark green, which makes an important difference.
With a similar color range, excluding violet and blue tones, double zinnias can replace dahlias in flower beds and borders, or you could just mix them together for continuity in shape. What is more, zinnias are annuals, and they can grow in much colder regions than dahlias.
3. African Marigold (Tagetes Erects)
Yet another annual with globular blooms that can remind you of dahlias is African marigold.
The blooms are not perfect spheres though, as they are flattened at the top, and while they are packed with petals, there are fringed and curly.
What is more, you only have a small color range, white, yellow or orange, and the flowers are only 2 to 4 inches across (5.0 to 10 cm).
With super finely textured foliage, however, they are quite decorative and in addition to this, they keep troublesome bugs away from your beds and borders. Yes, because insects literally detest their strong smell.
Maybe this is in fact the best use of African marigold: to grow it with your dahlias, so that these plants don’t get infested, given that their soft stems and leaves can be damaged very easily.
4. Double Anemones (Anemone Coronaria)
Many double anemone varieties have blooms that can look like those of dahlias. For example, the blue with a violet shade ‘Lord Lieutenant’ or the candid white ‘Mount Everest’.
However, with these, you still see the central disk, and the petals are not as regular as in dahlias, nor do they reach the same flower size, stopping at a modest 2.5 inches (6.0 cm)..
But maybe the most intriguing is the flaming red ‘The Governor’ which could be confused with a collarette dahlia, thanks to the two shapes of its petals, broad at the back, thin and arching inward in the middle.
Alike in plant size and suitable for similar growing conditions, these anemones can fit well with the shapes of dahlia blooms, but they add much more finely textured foliage, which can be a great addition to your herbaceous border.
What is mire, they blossom earlier than dahlias, so you can have an advance taste of what your garden will look like when they bloom, though on a smaller scale.
5. Double Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum Spp.)
Chrysanthemums are impressive bloomers and some double varieties really look like dahlias.
Do you want some examples? The deep pink ‘Grandchild’, with blooms that reach 5 inches across (12 cm), the smaller and yellow orange ‘Foreglow Bronze’ – very energetic! – as well as ‘Ruby Mound’ and even the cerise red ‘Jolly Cheryl’.
There are many more, of course out of the thousands of varieties. However, one that is jaw dropping and looks like a semi cactus dahlia is ‘Matchsticks’… it has long and folded petals, and they start off with a bright shade of yellow at the center, but show drop like patches of ruby red at the tips! Quite an eye catcher!
If you want to thicken and strengthen the effect of globular dahlias late in the season, double chrysanthemums are a good choice for beds and borders in any informal garden.
6. Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii And Gerbera Garvinea)
Some gerbera daisies can look quite a bit like some double dahlias, especially collarette varieties.
For example the garvinea cultivar ‘Sweet Memories’ has smaller, pale pink petals near the center, which contrast beautifully with the rich pink reddish outer ones, which are much bigger.
You get a similar effect from the exquisitely colored ‘Mega Revolution Salmon Rose’, though this unusual and delicate shade is contrasted by a lime yellow center.
But the one you want for a psychedelic effect is the jamesonii ‘Two Zone Orange’… It has super bright yellow petals with flaming red tips, and it looks like it shines of a light of its own.
The large foliage at the base of gerbera daisies make them ideal for containers, and the fact that they bloom all year round gives you a dahlia like look even when no real dahlia is in sight!
7. Persian Buttercups (Ranunculus Asiaticus)
Ok, the petals of sweet looking Persian buttercups are broad, unlike those of dahlias, but the overall globular, almost spherical shape of the bloom is quite similar indeed.
Loved in bouquets, there are quite a few varieties to choose from, including the pink ‘Clone Pompon Hemione’, one of the most romantic flowers ever, the snow colored ‘Delano White’ the flaming ‘Delano Red’ and ‘Tecolote Red’ or the bright golden ‘Delano Yellow’.
Alternatively, a species that looks really like miniature pom pom dahlia is meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), especially the yellow cultivar ‘Flore Pleno’.
With long stems and finely cut leaves, these charming bulbous perennials offer great elegance and harmony.
Starting their bloom earlier than dahlias and smaller in size, you could grow Persian or meadow buttercups as precursor to the more showy blooms of dahlias later in the season, in beds, birders or as cut flowers.
8. African Daisy 4D Series (Osteospermum ‘4D Series’)
The 4D series of African daisy cultivars is quite unique insofar as the blooms do look like collarette dahlias.
The fact is that they have flat outer petals and then another round clump in the middle with smaller tubular ones! Blooming throughout the whole season, there are quite a few varieties that could interest you…
For example, the canary yellow with golden central petals ‘Sunburst’, or the pale blue and violet ‘Silver’, the white and mauve ‘Violet Ice’ or the just off white and purple ‘Berry White’.
These delicate chromatic combinations are a real asset to any garden, really. And the lush green foliage makes the perfect backdrop for this long lasting floral display.
Sumptuous and showy, the African daisies of the 4D series will give you amazing blooms till frost and they require very low maintenance. They are also ideal for window boxes and containers, unlike many dahlias.
Flowers That Look Like Single Dahlias
Single dahlias are less unique than double ones, and there are quite a few lookalikes flowers that mimic the flower’s appearance.
But we picked the ones that are really more comparable, more alike, out of them all, and here they are.
9. Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos Astrosanguineus)
Called chocolate cosmos because of its smell, it looks like single daisies and it brings to your garden a deep velvety red color that makes its display really unique.
The 8 petals are broad and rounded at the tips, with grooves that run along their length. These come on long and this stems, and they are 2 inches across.
The leaves are pinnate, with deep lobes and unusual petioles, because they are winged. Very graceful and generous with its blossom.
This means that butterflies and pollinators will come to visit your land, make it fertile and more lively as well.
Perfect for cottage gardens, chocolate cosmos will also look great in any other informal bed or border, or, if you want to enjoy its sweet smell close by, you can grow it in containers