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Dahlias, Spectacular Garden Flowers

Interesting Facts about Dahlias

Pink Dahlias

  • The dahlia is named after Swedish 18th-century botanist Anders Dahl who regarded it as a vegetable rather than a garden flower.
  • Dahlias are native to Mexico and South America
  • The dahlia is the official flower of the city of Seattle.
  • Dahlias and chrysanthemums are closely related and often hard to tell apart. Dahlias have hollow stems. Their leaves are smooth, usually with points, whereas chrysanthemum leaves are soft, with rounded edges.
  • There are 50,000 named varieties
  • An individual flower can have up to 300 petals.
  • There is a great variation in size. The smallest measure less than 2 inches in diameter; the largest are about 18 inches.
  • Dahlia Flower season begins in early spring and continues though summer into early fall.
  • There are currently 35 recognized species.

Historical Facts about Dahlias

Bright Pink Dahlias
  • Aztecs used parts of the dahlia for food and medicines
  • In 1570 King Phillip II of Spain sent Francisco Hernandez to Mexico to study the natural resources. He described plants that resemble dahlia species under the names, Acocotli and Cocoxochitl.
  • In 1789 , the director of the Botanical Garden at Mexico City sent plant parts to Antonio Jose Cavarilles, on staff at the Royal Gardens of Madrid in Spain who grew three new plants, Dahlia pinnata, D. rosea, and D. coccinea. He named the genus after Andreas Dahl, a Swedish botanist

Meaning of Dahlias

Dahlias Orange and Pink

There are various meaning for the dahlia in the Language of Flowers:

  • Good taste
  • Gorgeousness
  • Eloquence
  • Changeable
  • Warning, prtent of betrayal
  • Single Dahlia: Recognition, good taste, novelty, dignity and elegance
  • Double Dahlia: Instability

Quotes about Dahlias

Santa Claus Dahlia

"My advice to the women of America is to raise more hell and fewer dahlias"
-- William Allen White

"If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden." -- W. Beran Wolfe

Tips on Growing Dahlias

Yellow Dahlias
  • Full sun is the ideal location for most dahlias. Need a minimum of 6 hours of sun.
  • Delay planting until all danger of frost is over and soils have warmed up.
  • Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep in a pot, pack, or flat. Dahlias normally germinate in 5-7 days at temperatures between 70-80 degrees F.
  • Prepare the soil by digging to a depth of about a foot. Mix in compost.
  • Plant 3-6 inches deep 18-24 inches apart.
  • When the young plants are planted, the upper part of the root should not be less than three Inches beneath the surface.
  • Dahlias do not require too rich a soil - except those intended for exhibition. A very rich soil will produce strong stems and leaves and few, ill-formed flowers. A moderately rich, light loam, is indisputably the best soil
  • Dahlia plants become massive and need support to prevent plant breakage and loss of large blooms. A stake as tall as the final flower's height should be put next to the plant at the time of planting. Putting in later may damage the flower.
  • Start tying dahlias when they are about 1 foot tall, and continue to tie them at intervals of approximately 1 foot throughout the growing season.

Care of Cut Dahlias

Orange Dahlias
  • Cut about an inch off the stems of the dahlias before putting in the vase
  • You can take the end of a sharp knife and put a tiny hole into the stem, just under the water line. This will let air out and force the water to go higher.
  • Dahlias stems are hollow and will clog if there is a lack of fresh water or if the water contains bacteria. So make sure you use a clean vase. Wash the vase thoroughly with soap and water, rinse clean and dry upside down.
  • Cut-flower food will help the dahlias last.
  • Change the water and plant food every 2 days.

Links to Dahlia Societies

Red Dahlias
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Gifts for the
Dahlia Lover

Many Other Dahlia Designs and Products Available


Please send questions or comments to: sue@designsbysusan.com

Copyright © 2007-2011 Susan Savad
Last Modified December 8, 2007