Botanical Name and Pronunciation:
Dahlia spp. (DAL-ya or DAHL-ee-a)
most colors except blue, including red, orange, yellow, white, pink, and purple
Form and Size:
The leafy stems of dahlia are 12 - 24 inches long, with a single bloom per stem that varies in shape and size. Common shapes are globe, daisy and pinwheel. Blooms are usually 4 - 6 inches in diameter, though they can reach 10 inches across!
2 - 10 days, sometimes longer
Some year round; at their best June-October
Remove any leaves that would be under water in the container. Cut at an angle under water (preferably with a sharp knife or floral shears to avoid pinching the stem) and place in fresh water with flower food. Whenever the water appears cloudy, replace the water with fresh water and floral solution and recut the stems.
History and Usage:
A member of the Compositae (aster) family, dahlia originated in Mexico, Central America and Colombia. Its botanical and popular name comes from the Swedish botanist, Anders Dahl (1751-1789). Until recently, dahlia was also called georginas because of Russian botanist, Johann Georgi. It is still called that in Eastern Europe. In arrangements, larger blooms of dahlia are used to add mass, whereas smaller blooms can be used as a filler flower.
Points of Interest:
Relatives of dahlia include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum and zinnia. The Aztecs grew dahlias, though they were called cocoxochitl. They were used for their ornamental value as well as the edible root. This edible root was later investigated as a potato substitute, but many Victorians did not like the taste.