You know from our “Shop by Zodiac” feature that they are a companion to the astrological sign Leo, but did you know that Dahlias have a rich history as a source of food, medicine, and ceremonial value?
Native to Mexico, Dahlia is the country’s national flower. Before it was admired solely for its leonine beauty, however, Dahlia was an invaluable resource for the Aztecs. As medicine, it was a common treatment for epilepsy (and in more recent medicine, a substance called Atlantic starch, derived from the tubers of Dahlias, was a treatment for diabetes before the discovery of insulin). Wild Dahlias grow prolifically in the mountains of Mexico and Central America, and the Aztecs employed their petals for ceremonial decoration and relied on their tubers as a food source until potatoes and corn were introduced. (For those curious about the culinary use of Dahlias, most modern varieties are bland, but the older, heirloom varieties are spicy and crunchy like apples, carrots, or celery root.)
Dahlia received its modern name from Swedish botanist, Andreas Dahl, and was popularized around 1830 when Empress Josephine de Beauharnais of France grew them. Due to its big range of choices in colors, sizes, and shapes Dahlias are called the “Houdini of the Garden.”
With such a rich history, dahlias are loaded with symbolic meaning. Here are a few of our favs:
- Want to design a garden that welcomes abundance? Dahlias represent wealth and elegance!
- Manifest the relationship of your dreams by planting Dahlias, which also symbolize love, commitment, honesty, and fidelity.
- It’s no coincidence that Dahlias are the our flower of the astrological sign Leo, as their bright colors and attention-grabbing shapes invite positive energy into your space and represent grace under pressure and standing out from the crowd!
How to Grow Dahlias
Dahlias bloom in late Summer/Fall and are planted in Spring. For all you need to know about planting, growing, and caring for your flowers, please visit our “Plant Care” page where we offer advice on everything from problem-solving to over-wintering, to storing, to dividing your beautiful Dahlias.