The Dahlia Flower: Meanings, Images & Insights

The Dahlia Flower: Meanings, Images & Insights

With so many different colours and over 50,000 varieties, of course the dahlia flower would have several meanings!

Dahlias are one of the most sought-after flowers come summertime. These colourful, vibrant, show-stealing blooms make wonderful additions to bouquets and also to our gardens by the time December comes around.

With so many varieties and colours of dahlias around, the dahlia flower meaning is naturally also varied! Keep reading to learn some fascinating insights about this stunning flower.

Dahlia Flower Meaning & Symbolism

bunch of orange dahlias

One dahlia flower meaning is “finding inner strength”. This makes dahlias the perfect blooms to send to someone who’s perhaps going through a tough time and could do with a little support.

Dahlias are a unique and showy bloom, so it’s fitting that also they symbolise standing out from the crowd and following your own path. They’re an excellent flower to give a friend or family member who’s graduating or about to embark on a new career journey.

Dahlias also symbolise staying graceful and remaining kind, even in high-pressure or challenging situations. If someone you love is experiencing a stressful moment in life, send them a bouquet of dahlias to brighten their day.

In the Victorian Era, when floriography (the language of flowers) was all the rage, dahlias were given as symbols of devotion, love, beauty and dignity. These meanings still hold true in modern times. So, if you’re looking for a great alternative to roses for a romantic gifting occasion, like Valentine's Day, look no further than dahlias!

Dahlias are also the traditional flower given for a 14th wedding anniversary.

Dahlia Flower Colour Meanings

dahlia colours

Dahlias come in every colour except for blue and true black. There are sometimes even two-tone dahlias!

As with roses, tulips and lilies, the different colours of dahlias each hold a different meaning. 

  • Red dahlias are symbols of strength and power, perfect for sending to someone whenever they could use a little extra strength. For example, if they’re unwell or about to go to a job interview. Red flowers in general tend to symbolise love and passion, and this is also true of red dahlias. If you’re sending flowers for Valentine’s Day, red dahlias can make a nice alternative to traditional red roses

  • Pink dahlias, and also purple dahlias, symbolise grace, kindness and beauty. These blooms make excellent flower gifts for Mother’s Day and for sisters and girlfriends you hold dear. Additionally, purple dahlias represent royalty, so are perfect for gifting to someone you hold in high esteem

  • Yellow and orange dahlias are effortlessly cheerful, so of course they symbolise joy and excitement. They make excellent birthday flowers, and are great for sending in celebration of a special occasion, such as an engagement or the arrival of a new baby

  • White dahlias, as with other white flowers, represent purity, innocence and rebirth. They’re often used in wedding bouquets, sympathy bouquets and new baby bouquets

  • Green dahlias are associated with new beginnings and change, great if someone is moving house or about to start a new job

  • Black dahlias aren’t truly black, but rather a very deep shade of crimson. They symbolise betrayal and sadness, so shouldn’t be gifted lightly. Most notably, they’re associated with the infamous murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 in Los Angeles. This case became known as “The Black Dahlia” murder, and it remains unsolved to this day.

Dahlia Flower History & Insights

red two tone dahlia

Dahlias were originally native to Mexico and Central America, and were actually named Mexico’s national flower in 1963. Today, there’s a mindblowing 50,000+ varieties of dahlia flowers out there!

The Royal Horticultural Society classifies dahlia flowers into 14 groups, depending on their shape. Examples of these groups are Formal Decorative Dahlias, Waterlily Dahlias, Pompon Dahlias and Ball Dahlias, which are perhaps the most easily recognised. 

Dahlias belong to the same family as sunflowers, chrysanthemums, daisies and asters: Asteraceae. Like other flowers in this family, dahlias are composite flowers, meaning they’re actually made up of dozens of mini flowers known as either ray or disc florets. What we might think of as the dahlia’s “petals” are actually these individual florets.

Dahlias are mostly fragrance-free; they use their vibrant colours to attract pollinators, rather than scent. However, again like other members of the Asteraceae flower family, dahlias are heavy pollen producers. This means they’re not particularly allergy-friendly! If you know they have hay fever, dahlias are perhaps not the best flowers to send to your loved one.

Additionally, dahlias are known to be toxic to cats, dogs and horses. 

How to Care for Cut Dahlia Flowers

dahlia bouquet in comportDahlias bloom from summer into autumn, meaning they do have somewhat of a limited window for us to enjoy their beauty. If you are lucky enough to receive a bouquet of dahlias during this window, here’s how to keep them happy and fresh for as long as possible:

  • Snip the stems with clean, sharp secateurs or scissors. Cut at an angle to provide increased surface area for water absorption. Snip the stems underwater if possible, as this can prevent air bubbles from forming, which can block water uptake

  • Strip off any leaves that will sit below the waterline once in the vase. Any leaves that touch the water will rot and release bacteria, which will reduce the vase life of the flowers

  • If your dahlias are on their own, try placing them in a vase of warm to hot (but not scalding) water with flower food solution mixed in, and allow the water to cool to room temperature. Other blooms may not tolerate warm water, so it’s best to use cool water if your dahlias are in a mixed bouquet

  • Replace the water and flower food every 2 days or so to prevent bacteria and mildew from growing. Give the vase a clean as well, to remove any bacteria that may have formed. Trim the stems by a couple of centimetres each time you change the vase water, to help them stay hydrated

  • Dahlia heads are quite heavy and aren’t well supported by their stems. If you can, try using other blooms in the bouquet to support their weight, or they may droop

  • Take care when handling your dahlias, as the heavy flower heads can easily become detached from the stems.

When properly cared for, dahlias can last up to 8 days in a vase.

Flowers That Pair Well with Dahlias

dahlias in sienna bouquet

Showy and vibrant, dahlias are often used as focal flowers in a bouquet. They’re the star of the show! 

Some of our favourite blooms to pair with dahlias in supporting roles include:

  • Roses
  • Delphinium
  • Statice
  • Gerberas
  • Anthurium
  • Lisianthus
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnia
  • Ranunculus


If you loved this article about the dahlia flower’s meaning and history, be sure to check out other articles in our Flower Insights series, where we discuss daffodils, orchids, gladioli and more.

Or you can explore our Flower Delivery MelbourneFlower Delivery Sydney and Flower Delivery Perth collections to see what flowers we can deliver to your loved ones in these locations.