Everything You Might Not Know About Dahlias

February 16, 2023 by

dahlia Ivanetti from DutchGrown

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With 42 species and over 50,000 named dahlia cultivars, there are many things about this flower that even the most accomplished gardener may not know. Some fun dahlia facts:

Native to Mexico
Dahlias are native to Mexico and were a long-established staple in Aztec gardens before Spanish botanists in the 16th century discovered them growing there in the wild. Initially categorized as a vegetable because of their edible tubers, their taste is described as a blend of carrot, celery and potatoes. Though dahlias were a popular component of the Aztec diet, Europeans did not consider them edible delicacies.

dahlia color spectacle by DutchGrown

Named After a Swedish Botanist
Transported to Europe from Mexico in 1789, the flowers were introduced at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Madrid, where the Gardens’ director, Abbe Cavanilles, named the dahlia after the Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl.

Mexico’s National Flower
The Dahlia pinnata is Mexico’s national flower and also the official flower of both Seattle and San Francisco.

Prized by Royalty
Dahlias were the favorite flower of the court of Queen Victoria and Marie Antoinette.

dahlia Eefje by DutchGrown

Part of the Daisy and Sunflower Families
Due to their astral appearance—resembling a star surrounded by rays of light—Dahlias are officially part of the Asteraceae family (from the Greek word for star) which includes the aster but also the daisy, sunflower, zinnia, and chrysanthemum.

Broad Spectrum of Color, But Not Blue
You’ll find dahlias in almost any color except blue. Often used to make textile dyes, all the dahlia colors except white create orange, yellow, or green hues.

Dahlia Unique Pastel Mix from DutchGrown

Pollinators Love Them
Pollinating insects are attracted to them for their broad spectrum of bright colorful blooms rather than their scent.

Wide Variety of Shapes and Sizes
Dahlias range in size from dwarf plants that are perfect for flower beds, to giant varieties such as Dahlia imperialism, or tree dahlia, which can grow upwards of 19 feet (6m) tall and some cultivars can grow to 13 inches (35cm) in diameter.

Dahlia tubers from DutchGrown

Late-Season Flowers
As they peak in mid-summer, planting dahlias is a great way of extending the summer flower garden season.

The Language of Dahlias
In the language of flowers or floriography, dahlias are symbols of devotion, love, beauty and dignity.

With the dahlia’s wide diversity of color, size and shape, these late summer flowers are great for a cut flower garden where their beautiful blooms will often extend the flowering season well into the autumn.

DutchGrown is offering Urban Gardens readers a 15% discount with code URBAN. Explore their dahlia collection and other spring-planted bulbs here.

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