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Dahlias to celebrate summer

One of the simple joys of summer is dahlias, and my very favorite place to buy them is from Leah Banks who sells them out of her yard in Costa Mesa. Her dahlias are nothing short of incredible. Leah cultivates her plants with great care and has a personal relationship with each one.

If the weather cooperates, some of her varieties grow to enormous 8" balls of fabulous color. Leah will let you walk through her garden and choose each and every flower. She hand cuts each one for you, resulting in long-lasting flowers. Depending on the weather, dahlia season can extend into October here in Southern California. To contact Leah, call 949 642-8107.

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Phenomenal, yet simple dahlia table arrangements

The first time I bought dahlias from Leah I tried to coordinate their colors. Now I just buy an array of spectacular colors, sizes and shapes. For dinner parties, my favorite way to arrange them is to cut them short - 6-8" and place three in a small vase, and line up several vases down the center of the table. These simple arrangements do not get in the way of dinner conversation, and are in fact, sure to spark conversation.

How to care for your cut dahlia

There are a couple tricks to caring for your cut dahlias:

  • Fill your vase with 2-3" of water. Dahlia stems do not do well in too much water.
  • Trim off any leaves that will be below the waterline.
  • I cut my dahlias at a 45-degree angle to maximize the stem area that drinks in the water. Some people recommend a straight horizontal cut.

  • Cauterize your dahlias. This seems a little weird, but Leah tells me it helps the flowers absorb water. Using a match or the gas flame on your stove, Hold the freshly cut stem under a flame for 3 seconds.

  • Mist your dahlias daily. Dahlias absorb water through their petals, so daily misting helps extend their life.

What tricks do you have for arranging dahlias?


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