The dahlia flower derives meaning from its history, uses, and vibrant colours. This elegant flower is prized for its ornamental value in landscaping. However, there is more than meets the eye with the dahlia flower.
In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into the dahlia flower’s symbolism, history, variety, and uses.
What does the dahlia flower symbolise?
The Dahlia flower symbolises dignity, elegance, good taste, refinement, instability, and a warning for change. Its possible powers are spiritual evolution and a sign of betrayal.
What does the dahlia symbolise negatively?
The dahlia flower’s meaning is primarily positive; however, its appearance has also led to negative connotations of the flower. One of the negative interpretations of the flower is instability or unpredictability. This interpretation comes from the multiple petals of the flower that give it a complex and intricate feel.
Moreover, the colours of the dahlia can also have negative connotations. Its bold and vibrant colours may symbolise showiness or even superficiality.
The negative symbolism of the dahlia flower is not deeply ingrained in its history or cultural traditions. Those are subjective associations based on different sources.
Dahlia flower colour meaning
The Dahlia flowers come in a variety of colours, and each colour has its unique meaning. Let’s explore some of the meanings associated with each dahlia flower colour.
- Red Dahlias: passion, love, romance, strength, and power. They are a trendy choice to express affection but also desire.
- Yellow Dahlias: happiness, joy, new beginnings, warmth, optimism, and friendship.
- Pink Dahlia: grace, femininity, and elegance. They are used to express admiration and gratitude towards someone else.
- White Dahlia: purity, innocence, spiritual enlightenment, fresh starts, and new beginnings. They make great additions to weddings or other ceremonies that represent a new beginning.
- Purple Dahlia: royalty, luxury, elegance. They are used to convey a feeling of regality and dignity.
Are dahlia flower edible?
The dahlia flower is not considered as an edible flower. However, certain dahlia tubers are edible in some regions like Mexico and Central America.
They are usually called “dahlia yams” or “dahlia chichipin” and are traditionally used in soups, roasted, or cooked. The taste and texture vary depending on the variety of the tuber. However, they are described as starchy or similar to potatoes.
It is important to note that not all dahlias are suitable for consumption. Some of them of mildly toxic and can lead to digestive discomfort when consumed in large amounts. Therefore, always identify the variety and ensure it is safe for consumption.
Dahlia flower history
Dahlias originate from the gardens of the Aztecs. Europeans discovered the plant during the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century.
Spain might have acquired the plant from Mexico around 1789. That year, the Mexican Botanical director Vincenne de Cervantes sent dahlia seeds to Spain, where they were grown in the Madrid Botanic Garden.
In 1790, Cervantes increased the seeds. Therefore, it must have been where Lady Bute acquired the seeds. She obtained seeds of three species that were known to Spain.
Lady Bute from Madrid then introduced the plant to England. However, the plant perished speedily. Cavanilles sent three plant varieties to France, which were successfully cultivated. The English visitors to Paris became very fond of the flower.
The Abbe Cavanilles was the first to describe the flower scientifically from a specimen that had bloomed in the Royal Garden of Madrid. He named the plant after his friend Andrew Dahl, a Swedish botanist.
Around 1803, Germany acquired dahlias. A German professor reclassified the dahlia flower into the genus of Georgina to honour a Russian botanist.
The semi-double and double dahlia flower varieties were sent by von Humboldt in 1804. One account states that he collected them in the wild. In contrast, another account postulates that he got the seeds from a local gardener. Those dahlias are the basis of today’s cultivars.
In the early 19th century, there was vigorous trade in dahlias between Great Britain and France, where Great Britain was the importer. The Horticultural Society of London counted more than 700 cultivars.
The dahlia flower was expensive, and it was not a flower fit for the masses back then. By the end of World War 2, the centre of Dahlia shifted from Great Britain to the Netherlands.
Victorians’ appreciation of the Dahlia
During the 19th century, Lady Holland saw the plant in Madrid and sent some tubers to England, and it was the first time it appeared in English gardens.
In the early 19th century, dahlias were only in aristocratic gardens. However, by the 1830s, it became one of the most fashionable flowers in the country.
The Victorians were particularly fond of the flower due to its bright colours and the immense variety. The ideal Dahlia was the ball-shaped type, the perfect floral representation of dignity. Later there would be a variety called “Little Dorrit” dedicated to Charles Dickens’s dignified heroine.
If a lady wished to reach the height of fashion and had a large garden, she would plant a walk of dahlias. Two borders would feature various Dahlia with different colours, with a grass path in between. Guests could then walk along the path and admire the flowers as they enjoyed their warm summer days.
Art inspiration for the dahlia flower in France
The Impressionist painter Claude Monet loved the Dahlia flowers. He grew them in abundance in his garden at Argenteuil.
He would also exchange varieties with the painter Gustave Caillebotte and the novelist Octave Mirbeau.
The Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil is a painting by Monet. It captures the flowers’ colours and their majesty against an autumn sky.
Dahlia flower meaning in Japan
In Japan, the dahlia flower is a popular subject in art and aesthetics. The dahlia flower’s symbolism can be understood through its broader themes and historical contexts.
Dahlias are found in Japanese gardens renowned for their meticulous designs and attention to detail. Those gardens are known for their beauty and a place for contemplation, meditation, and connecting with the divine.
The dahlias in those gardens reflect the cultural values and the desire to create harmonious and aesthetically pleasing environments.
Dahlia flower mythology
There needs to be more information about the Dahlia flower mythology. However, we can understand its meaning through the broader symbolism and association with deities and rituals.
The dahlia flower symbolised beauty, spirituality, and sacredness in Mayan and Aztec cultures. The Aztecs cultivated and used the dahlias for various purposes, which included ornamental displays and medicinal practices.
They associated their gods and goddesses with nature and agriculture. Those deities were often portrayed with flowers and plants, symbolising their power over fertility, growth, and abundance. The dahlia flower may have resonated with the Aztecs and Mayans because of its vibrant and diverse nature representing the natural world.
Dahlia flower spiritual meaning
The dahlia flower’s spiritual meaning comes from different spiritual traditions. It is associated with inner strength, balance, and transformation.
Its diverse and vibrant colours reflect the richness and diversity of the human spirit. Additionally, its ability to bloom and thrive in different conditions symbolises resilience and adaptability, reminding us to embrace change and overcome challenges.
In the language of flowers, the dahlia symbolises gratitude and appreciation. It reminds us to be thankful for the blessings we have in our lives. Moreover, it reminds us to express gratitude for the beauty surrounding us. It encourages us to find joy in the present moment and cultivate a positive mindset.
Spiritual practices like meditation and energy healing have a belief that the dahlia flower has a soothing and grounding effect. The flower’s presence helps create a sense of calm and harmony. Also, it allows the individual to connect with their inner self and find balance in the chaos of life.
Dahlia flower types
There are various dahlia flower types, and they come in different colours, shapes, and sizes. Let’s explore some of the dahlia flower varieties and characteristics.
Single-Flowered Dahlias: These types have a vibrant and eye-catching colour. The petals surround a central disc and are in a single row.
Anemone-Flowered Dahlias: The centre of this flower usually has a contrasting colour to the petals. The petals are a ring of flat or slightly cupped around the raised centre.
Decorative Dahlias: Decorative dahlias come in various sizes and colours. The petals are often flat or slightly rolled.
Cactus Dahlias: Cactus dahlias come in different colours and create a striking visual impact. The petals curve backward, long, narrow, and pointed.
Pompom Dahlias: Pompom dahlias have a compact and intricate flower head. They have small, rounded, and densely packed petals that resemble little pompoms.
Peony-Flowered Dahlias: This type of dahlia resembles peonies. They come in various shades and are often full and fluffy. The flower is a double flower and has multiple rows of petals.
Ball Dahlias: Ball dahlias can range from small and compact to larger and more rounded. They are round flowers and have tightly packed petals.
Dahlia flower tattoo meaning
If you want to get a Dahlia flower tattoo or have one and wonder about its meaning, check out those possible interpretations.
- Elegance and Grace: Dahlias are associated with femininity, elegance, and grace. Therefore, it’s a popular choice of tattoo for embodying beauty and sophistication.
- Inner Strength and Resilience: The dahlia flower can bloom in challenging conditions, symbolising inner strength and resilience. A dahlia tattoo can remind you to stay strong and persevere through life’s obstacles.
- Uniqueness and Individuality: The various colours and forms of the dahlia make them unique and individualistic. The Dahlia tattoo can then remind you to embrace your uniqueness and celebrate your individuality.
- Inner Beauty and Transformation: The flower’s growth from a tiny bud into a beautiful blossom symbolises personal growth and transformation.
- Love and Affection: Some cultures associate love and affection with the dahlia. Its vibrant colours and captivating presence make the flower a symbol of deep emotional connection and sentiments.
Dahlia Flower uses
The Dahlia flower has different uses; let’s explore some of its past and present uses.
- Ornamental Purposes: The dahlia flower’s primary use is for ornamental purposes. Their blooms are vibrant and have a unique shape, making those flowers a perfect choice to add beauty and elegance to landscapes and floral displays.
- Medicinal Uses: In ancient times, there was a belief that specific varieties of the dahlia flower had medicinal properties. Dahlia tenuicaulis was used in Mexico to treat respiratory ailments and reduce inflammation. They would make broth from the tuber and pork in China to remedy heart trouble.
- Culinary Applications: Certain species of dahlias have culinary uses. The petals are added to salads, desserts, or garnishes to add colour and a subtle floral flavour.
- Dye: The vibrant colours of the dahlia made it a perfect natural dye. The Navajo Indians extracted the pigments from the petals. They used various shades of yellow, orange, and red on fabrics as a dye.
- Symbolic Representations: The dahlia flowers have symbolic use. They represent elegance, inner strength, and personal uniqueness. Those symbolisms are found in art, literature, and flora symbolism to convey specific meanings or emotions.
How can I care for and grow dahlias in my garden?
Planting: Select a sunny location in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of full sun daily. Ensure the planting area has well-draining soil to meet the preference of dahlias. It’s best to plant the tubers or young dahlia plants in spring after the frost danger has passed in your region.
Soil Preparation: Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure. This will enhance soil fertility, improve drainage, and aid in moisture retention.
Watering: Maintain even moisture in the soil without waterlogging. Deeply water the dahlias once or twice a week, providing approximately 1 inch of water each time. Avoid overhead watering as it can promote disease due to wet foliage.
Fertilization: Dahlias have a high nutrient requirement, so regular fertilization is beneficial. Apply a balanced fertilizer or a specifically formulated dahlia fertilizer following the instructions on the package. Begin fertilizing once the plants have established themselves and continue throughout the growing season.
Support and Pruning: As dahlias grow, they may need support to prevent toppling. Install stakes or cages around the plants early in the season to provide necessary support. Pinch off the growing tips of young plants to encourage bushier growth and remove spent flowers to promote continuous blooming.
Pest and Disease Control: Stay vigilant for common garden pests such as aphids, slugs, and snails. Regularly inspect your plants and take appropriate measures like handpicking or using organic pest control methods. Good air circulation is important to prevent fungal diseases, so ensure proper ventilation and refrain from overhead watering.
Winter Storage: In regions with cold winters, dahlias are typically dug up and stored indoors during the dormant season. After the first frost, carefully dig up the tubers, remove excess soil, and allow them to dry for a few days. Store the tubers in a cool and dry location, such as a basement or garage, in a well-ventilated container filled with peat moss or vermiculite.
Remember, different varieties of dahlias may have specific care requirements, so it’s always helpful to refer to the instructions provided with the plants or tubers you purchase.
In conclusion, the dahlia flower holds a rich tapestry of meanings. Its uses span across cultures, history, and artistic expressions. Its elegance, vibrant colours, and diverse varieties have captivated people throughout time, making it a beloved flower in gardens, art, and symbolism.
From a historical perspective, the dahlia flower’s journey from the gardens of the Aztecs to its introduction in Europe showcases its cultural significance and popularity.
The dahlia flower finds itself in various uses, both past and present. It is a decorative element in gardens and floral arrangements. It carries potential medicinal properties in ancient practices, adds subtle floral flavours to culinary creations, and produces natural dyes for fabrics.
Essentially, the dahlia flower encompasses elegance, spirituality, resilience, and gratitude. It reminds us to find beauty in diversity, embrace change with grace, and appreciate the richness of life’s experiences.
So, whether adorning a garden, a tattoo, or a piece of artwork, the dahlia flower continues to enchant and inspire, weaving its elegant charm into the fabric of our lives.
If you enjoyed this blog on the dahlia flower meaning then don’t miss out on other flowers that bloom in summer.
Grey-Wilson, C. (2007). Dahlias: The Complete Guide. Timber Press.
Holmes, M. (2012). The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Dahlias. Timber Press.
Genders, R. (1971). The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Dahlias. Crowood Press.
Fischer, G., & Fischer, G. (2011). A Book of Flowers and Plants. Taschen.
Roberts, M. (2017). Flowers: The Complete Book of Floral Design. Dorling Kindersley Ltd.
Sullivan, S. (2018). The Flower Gardener’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Colorful Blooms All Season Long. Cool Springs Press.
Von Glitschka, T. (2017). The Big Book of Chic: Tattoos. Harper Design.
Lawson, J. (2019). The Tattoo Dictionary. Chronicle Books.
Tattoo Life Magazine. (2017). Tattoo Meanings & Tattoo Design Symbolism. Tattoo Life Publications.
Rice, G. (2015). The Ultimate Dahlia Handbook: Guide to Growing and Caring for Dahlias. Fox Chapel Publishing.
Mitchell, C. (2017). The Plant Lover’s Guide to Dahlias. Timber Press.
Hanks, P. (2020). Dahlia Divas: A Dahlia Lovers Guide. Shadowfax Publishing.
Matthews, C. (2019). The Encyclopedia of Crystals, Herbs, and New Age Elements: An A to Z Guide to New Age Elements and How to Use Them. Adams Media.
Pennick, N. (2011). The Pagan Book of Days: A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year. Destiny Books.
Webster, R. (2017). Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. Llewellyn Publications.
Bierhorst, J. (1990). The Mythology of Mexico and Central America. Oxford University Press.
Nicholson, H. B., & Williams, E. W. (2011). The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs. Oxford University Press.
Kuck, L. (2013). Japanese Flowers and Their Symbolism: With Japanese Flower Arrangements. Tuttle Publishing.
Paine, R. T. (2011). The Art and Architecture of Japan. Yale University Press.
Salter, R. (2014). Flowers in the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens. Abrams.