Native to Mexico and Central America our beautiful dahlia are abundant in Pennsylvania gardens in August through early October.  They are a member of the Asteracae family and grow from tubers.  To grow them outdoors they like full sun and rich, well-drained soil and thrive when cut before the final bloom.   They must be pulled out or well mulched to make it through a cold winter.   You will find them in many colors and a vast variety of sizes from silver dollar to dinner plate.

Dahlia have the flower head facing forward on the stem which makes them  sometimes challenging to arrange with but always worth the effort. 

Proper pruning for dahlia cuts the center stem to allow for the more slender side stems to grow.  This gives more blooms per plan and also avoids having the flower stem be too big for arranging. 


I became inspired about dahlias last fall when I started buying them regularly from Urban Roots Farm at the Bryn Mawr Farmers Market.  On an early morning visit to the farm I met Jack Goldenberg in his wonderful field of dahlia.

Here we are harvesting from the dahlia patch getting ready for Saturday market sales.

My big bucket of dahlia!!   Looks like it’s going to be a very fun day playing with these wonderful blossoms. 

The front facing faces of dahlia are especially good for simple low designs and showy enough all themselves. 


Two or three dahlia blooms make strong focal flowers in flowering linear designs.

One sunny dahlia is the star of this little arrangement with blue delphinium and field flowers. 

Orange dahlia combines with fall leaves and berries. 

Orange and white is a favorite color combination.  Here opulent orange dahlia combine with dark foliage and green hydrangea.  White roses and Queen Anne’s lace carry the white of the vase into the arrangement. 

A purple dahlia makes a good focal flower for a compote design in pale pinks and purples.

This lovely dahlia both pink and peach in its color blends perfectly with soft pink zinnia and peach and pink roses.  

 The season is now.   For those of you who don’t grow dahlia (including me)  local markets are abundant sources.  It’s a celebration for late summer into early autumn.