Welcome to week fourteen of our column entitled Pretty Petals. Each week we will introduce you to a flower that we are working with here in the studio as well as flowers that we absolutely adore. Please join us every Thursday for some floral eye-candy where you will learn about a variety of very special blooms. This week we are excited to share our love of the oversized flower known as the dahlia.
Dahlia blossoms come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from a modest sphere the size of a tennis ball to giant, flatter variety the size of a dinner plate. But whether big or small, dahlias are an outstanding flower loved for their vast variety of colours and long, leafy stems. As we reach mid-summer, the local garden dahlias here in southern Ontario are in full bloom, reaching heights of anywhere from two to eight feet. If you decide that you would like to take a stab at growing dahlias in your garden, you will be delighted to know that they are very easy to nurture. They grow from a tuber planted in the spring, and believe it or not, in less than two months you will have tall, healthy plants abundant with flowers. Dahlias need a sunny spot to grow and often require staking because they can become top heavy. Tubers must be dug up in the fall and stored in a cool, dry place.
Dahlias flowers are fragrance-free. But not to worry, pollination is not jeopardized because of their lack of scent – the bright colours draw bees to them. Dahlia stems however, have a wonderfully, abundant smell when they are freshly cut. They possess a pungent, peppery scent that can intoxicate an entire room.
Although dahlias often have chunky stems and are seemingly sturdy, they are in fact, hollow inside. One aggressive pull or squeeze and they can be crushed. A crushed stem will inhibit water from travelling to the top of the stem to feed the blossom. Because of the hollow stem, a dahlia will perform best in a vase, as opposed to a design constructed in floral foam. These thirsty flowers require a direct water source, as well as an abundant one.
If you would like to treat yourself to a vase of dahlias you can expect to pay approximately $4-$6 per stem during their growing season of July to the first heavy frost. Although it feels like summer has just begun, it will be chilly before we know it, so make sure you get your fill of dahlias before the cold temperatures take over!