Summer is the time of year where dahlias are flourishing, abundant and readily available. Dahlias are native to Mexico and declared the national flower. Dahlias need a sunny location to thrive. An area that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight is best. For me, dahlias remind me of Dutch flemish art paintings: a romantic, flourishing, abundance of flowers in a vase.
Cut dahlias are sensitive to climate. During the wedding season, in the foothills of California, where the air is very dry and the sun is very hot; in a matter of minutes, we can watch cut dahlias wilt right before our eyes. Cut dahlias thrive on the coast where the temperature is mild and the air is very humid.
So what is a florist to do when a bride requests those exciting dahlias? We learned the hard way and even then, it is not 100% foolproof. We receive our flower order in the mornings when the temperature is nice and cool. We re-cut the dahlias in hot water and hood them using a plastic bag. We allow them to drink this hot water for an hour and then place them directly in a cooler. Our reasoning, we are trying to re-create a coastal effect. When we are ready to design with these dahlias, we cool the studio, design with them, and once again hood them with a plastic cover and immediately place in the cooler.
In the hot summer wedding months, we are successful setting the dahlia arrangements on the tables or delivering the bouquets looking beautiful. Unfortunately, no matter how many warnings signs we post all over our packaging to keep the flowers cool and in water we cannot fool mother nature. These smart dahlias react to their surroundings and do not like the hot dry heat. Sometimes, they throw a temper tantrum and quickly shrivel up in minutes.
So, if you request dahlias during these hot summer months and your event is in the California central valley, foothills or mountains; know that the longevity of dahlias is short. As much as we love these little wild gems and they are grown in the hot sun, be prepared that cut dahlias may wilt quickly and not hold up in time for that walk down the aisle.