Common name: Dahlia
Botanical Names: Dahlia
Origin: Mexico, Central America and Columbia
Colours: all except blue
Dahlias were first discovered in Mexico in the 16th century and noted as a medicinal plant. They were brought to Madrid in 1789 and grown in the botanic garden. They are named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, and pronounced DAY-lee-a. Since 1813 commercial growers have bred dahlias and produced thousands of types, including pompoms, cactus and waterlily varieties.
Dahlias are prized by gardeners for their magnificent flowers and often exhibited in horticultural shows and competitions. As Dahlias come from tropical regions they are not suited to temperatures below freezing. It is recommended to lift the tubers and store them over winter in a frost free place. The plants can range in height from 30cm for dwarf varieties up to 6m for the giant Tree dahlia. Some varieties produce flowers as large as a dinner plate.
They are popular as a cut flower and available mainly from June to October. Dahlias come in many colours and lots of them are vibrant or two tone shades. They should be bought in a mature stage and handled with care as the open flowers are delicate. They have a vase life of up to a week. They are also available as a British grown flower in late summer.
They are popular for weddings flowers as their peak season is through the summer. The perfectly uniform flowers look lovely used en masse in compact bridal bouquets or table arrangements. The British grown dahlias are often sold in bunches of gorgeous mixed jewel colours.