This has been a spectacular summer for dahlias around the grounds. These showy blooms come in an alluring array of colors and are ready to take center stage in an arrangement or planting bed. There are many different varieties, from enormous “Dinnerplate” styles to compact “Mignon” varieties, and petal arrangements that give each type a unique appearance.

Originating in Central America, dahlias were grown as food by the Aztecs, who ate the tuberous roots. Most of the varieties grown today aren’t edible, although you can still find dahlias on the menu in parts of Mexico. In our mild climate, dahlias will bloom from midsummer right up until the mornings start to get frosty. Leave the tubers in the ground over the winter, and they’ll sprout up again in the spring. Dahlias like plenty of sun and don’t require a lot of water, a bonus in the Bay Area’s dry summers. As gorgeous as these beauties look in the garden, they are also a standout in flower arrangements. Cut flowers in the cool of the morning or evening, choosing open blooms since buds won’t open off the plant. If you can, cut just above a set of leaf nodes and side buds—this will encourage continuous regrowth and blossoming.

Look for our next floral arranging class with Liz Rivera of Urban Dahlia for a chance to learn more about working with these fantastic flowers.