When late-summer’s rays have left your gardens scorched and sparse, few flowers retain their brilliance like dahlias. The perennial is well adjusted to torrid temperatures and features fashionably late blooms that liven up waning landscapes. Their fanciful spiraling petals and vivid colors are summer bliss, both outdoors and inside. To make the most of the season’s star, Robert Upwall of Every Blooming Thing offers tips on cutting, preserving and arranging dahlias.
Like other garden flowers, the best time to cut dahlias is just before they fully bloom. “If the flower is fully bloomed out, they’re not going to last as long,” says Upwall. “But if cut at the right time, you can enjoy them for three to four days before they wilt.” When blooms are ready to be harvested, use a sharp knife and cut the stem at an angle.
With your blooms in hand, it’s time to act fast, as dahlias are extremely prone to wilting. To extend their showy color, Upwall suggests “putting the stems in really fresh hot water.” Water between 160 to 170 degrees is best, as the flower is sensitive to cold temperatures. If you aren’t ready to put the blooms on display, store them in the garage or basement out of direct sunlight and never in a fridge or freezer.
Upwall loves pairing dahlias with other summertime favorites like sunflowers, but the versatile flower is also beautiful in a bouquet with ranunculus and garden roses. Or keep it simple by layering various colors of dahlias together. Once arranged, put your dahlias out just before your get-together or patio party to ensure the blooms stay vibrant and fresh.
In Full Bloom
There are 42 species of dahlias, and these three are top picks for florists and garden lovers alike.