Dahlias are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and captivating cut flowers, but keeping them fresh in a vase can be a challenge. However, with the right methods and a little know-how, you can enjoy your dahlia bouquets for an extended period. In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the steps to maximize the vase life of your dahlias, from setting up to critical harvest windows to proper conditioning. This article is a summary of the main points in my popular YouTube video, Getting the Longest Vase Life From My Dahias, so for an in-depth look with visual examples of everything I do for maximizing the vase life of my dahlias as a cut flower grower and farmer florist, check out the video below.
Good vase life is partly due to proper handling with cut flowers and this begins long before you cut your first stems. For the best quality cut flowers and longest possible vase life, begin with proper preparation:
1. Clean Buckets and Fresh Water: Always start with sterilized buckets and fresh, clean water. Keeping your equipment and environment free from contaminants will go a long way in extending the lifespan of your dahlias.
2. Hydration Solution: Adding a hydration solution to the water is an important step for dahlias. This solution is available as a professional cut flower product and it helps dahlias with their initial uptake, which in turn increases their vase life. If you are a home gardener, a simple DIY method that you can try instead is to place the stems in about two inches of inches of boiling or hot water for at least 30 seconds or until the water cools down. One note about this method: it will cause stem discoloration where the water was in contact with the stems.
3. Pre-Harvest Hydration: Before you begin harvesting your dahlias, make sure the plants themselves are well hydrated. Watering ahead of your harvest will ensure that your dahlias are in the best state of hydration when you cut them.
The timing of your dahlia harvest plays a crucial role in their vase life. Understanding the different types of dahlias and their characteristics is key to maximizing their vase life.
Choose the Right Moment: Dahlias will last the longest if you harvest them before they become too ripe. In general, look for dahlias that are about 2/3 of the way open, with petals that haven’t begun to curve all the way back. More specifically, timing is linked to the type of dahlia from ball to dinnerplate, anemone, and colorette. For helpful visual examples of the best harvest stage for each of these, please see the video above.
Certain types of dahlias have a better vase life than others. For the longest possible vase life, opt for pompom and ball type dahlias. Anemones and some decoratives can last around five days when harvested at the right time. Dinner-plate dahlias, while stunning, are best reserved for special events as they generally last only a couple of days. Single dahlias and those with open centers tend to shatter after only 24-36 hours. Keep in mind that there can be variations within each type category, so as you work with your dahlias, you’ll learn more about the characteristics of each one.
Conditioning and Nourishing
Finally, it is important to let your dahlias “rest” and condition before you work with them. Remember that a little extra care can go a long way in making these stunning flowers a worthwhile addition to your cut flower collection. For more tips, my bouquet foliage hack, and a detailed guide of everything that I do for getting the longest vase life from my dahlias, check out my aforementioned video! Happy growing!