Dahlia | Dahlia Flowers | Dahlia Description and Planting Guide

Dahlia | Dahlia Flowers


Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants, it is a member of the Asteraceae family of dicotyledonous plants. It is native to Mexico and Central America and now widely grown worldwide. The garden relatives of dahlia include sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnia plants.

This genus has 49 species, with hybrids being frequently produced as garden plants. One head of flowers per stem, in a variety of flower shapes, can range in size from 5 cm to 30 cm. Dahlias are octoploids, which means they contain eight sets of homologous chromosomes, when most plants only have two. This unusually high level of variability is a result of this. Dahlias also have a lot of transposons, which are genetic elements that move around on an allele and help explain why they exhibit such a wide range of traits.

The leafy stems can be as short as 30 cm (12 in) and as tall as 1.8–2.4 m. (6–8 ft). Most species do not produce fragrant flowers. They are vividly coloured, exhibiting most hues outside blue, like most plants that do not draw pollination insects through aroma.

Mexico pronounced the dahlia as its national flower in 1963. The Aztecs raised the tubers as a food crop, but after the Spanish Conquest, this use virtually disappeared. The tubers were not successfully introduced as a food crop in Europe.

Red Dahlia
Red Dahlia


Dahlias are perennial plants with tuberous roots, however in some places with cold winters, they are grown as annuals. While some plants have stems that are herbaceous, others have stems that lignify when secondary tissue is absent and resprout during winter dormancy, allowing for further seasons of growth. The dahlia is a member of the Asteraceae family and features a composite flower head, hence the earlier name Compositae, which includes both the central disc floret and the surrounding ray florets. Even though each floret is a flower in and of itself, especially by horticulturists, they are frequently wrongly referred to as petals. The present term Asteraceae alludes to a star-like appearance with rays encircling it.

Cultivation | Dahlia Planting

Dahlias are not adapted to endure subzero temperatures because they naturally grow in places without frost. Dahlias can be successfully grown by gardeners in temperate climates with frosts because of their ability to survive periods of dormancy due to their tuberous nature. This ability, however, requires that the tubers be lifted from the ground and stored in cool but frost-free conditions over the winter. The tubers are also somewhat protected if they are planted relatively deeply (10 to 15 cm). Modern dahlia hybrids thrive in conditions with abundant of sunlight, well-watered, free-draining soils when they are actively growing. All garden dahlias require regular deadheading after flowering starts, and taller types typically need some kind of support as they become bigger.

Dahlia Iimperialis
Dahlia Imperialis

When to Plant Dahlias

Cold soil is intolerable to dahlias. Plant once any threat of frost has passed and the soil reaches 60°F (15°C).

To gain a head start on the season, some gardeners start tubers indoors in containers one month in advance. Dahlias between medium and dwarf size will  easily grow in containers.

Dahlia bulbs
Dahlia Bulbs

How to Plant Dahlias

  • Always choose a healthy buds for best results of growth, never use rotten or wrinkle plant.
  • Plant big dahlias and those only cultivated for cutting in a separate area so they won't compete with other plants. Rows of tubers should be 3 feet apart. Dahlias will support one another and form a lovely flowering hedge if they are spaced approximately 1 foot apart.
  • Along with other summer flowers, plant medium- to low-height dahlias, which are typically around 3 feet tall. Set them apart by 2 feet.
  • The tiniest bedding dahlias should be planted 9 to 12 inches apart.
  • Start by excavating a 6- to 8-inch-deep hole before planting the tubers. Additionally, incorporating some bonemeal and compost into the planting hole is beneficial. Don't fertilise when planting if not.
  • The growth points, or "eyes," of the tuber should face up as it is placed in the hole.
  • Avoid slicing or breaking individual dahlia tubers (as you would with potatoes).
  • Add two to three inches of soil over the tuber. (Some claim 1 inch is sufficient.)
  • Fill in with earth as the stem grows until it reaches the ground level.
  • After planting, avoid watering the tubers right away. This promotes decay. Water after the sprouts have emerged above the dirt.
  • Don't dispense mulch. Mulch harbours slugs, and dahlia roots love sunlight.
  • Cultivars with tall, big flowers demand support. As plants grow, surround them with 5- to 6-foot stakes and tie stems to them.
  • Eight weeks after planting, dahlias start blooming.

Dahlia Varieties | Recommended Verities

There are roughly 60,000 known variants and 18 recognised flower types, including the cactus, peony, anemone, star, collarette, and waterlily. Here are some well-liked options:

"Bishop of Llandaff" has attractive, dark-burgundy foliage and tiny, intensely scarlet blooms. 3 feet tall

'Miss Rose Fletcher': a graceful, spiky, shell-pink cactus with 6-inch globes of long, quilled flowers; 'Bonne Esperance,' also known as 'Good Hope,' is a dwarf cultivar that stands 4 feet tall and produces rosy-pink, 1-1/2-inch flowers all summer that are evocative of Victorian bedding dahlias; 1-foot-tall "Kidd's Climax": the pinnacle of illogical beauty, including 10-inch "dinnerplate" flowers with hundreds of pink petals dappled with gold; Jersey's Beauty, a 3-1/2-foot tall plant with 4- to 6-inch hands-size pink flowers in the fall, grows to a height of 4 to 6 feet.


Dahlias will bloom more the more you cut them! For a bouquet, cut stems should be placed in a pail of chilly water in the morning, before the heat of the day. Cut off the bottom leaves of the stems, then arrange the flowers in a water-filled vase. Place the vase in a cool location away from the sun. Every day, check the water. Vases typically last seven days.



Dahlia and Liatris are two economically significant geophyte genera that belong to the asterid eudicots. The cultivar D. variabilis hort., which has given rise to thousands of cultivars but has an ambiguous taxonomic position (see also Cultivation), is commonly used to refer to the garden dahlia in horticulture.


Today, some cultivars of the dahlia are still produced specifically for its enormous, sweet potato-like tubers, which are still regarded as natural ingredients in Oaxacan cuisine. In Central America, dacopa, an intensely mocha-flavored extract from the roasted tubers, is used to flavour beverages.

Before the 1923 discovery of insulin, diabetics and consumers in Europe and America were frequently given a substance known as Atlantic starch or diabetic sugar, which was made from inulin, a naturally occurring form of fruit sugar, taken from dahlia tubers. Clinical testing for renal functioning still employs inulin.

Bloemencorso Zundert

The Bloemencorso Zundert is a dahlia-based flower procession that is the biggest in the world and is fully constructed by volunteers. In Zundert, Netherlands, the procession is held on the first Sunday in September. Large works of art, the floats are constructed from steel wire, cardboard, papier-mâché, and flowers. Dahlias are mostly used to embellish the items in the Bloemencorso Zundert, and it takes hundreds of them to completely cover one float. The total number of dahlias required for the corso is about 8 million. About 6 million of these are grown in Zundert. In 1936, it was founded.

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