Best Dahlias for Cut Flowers

For years, we shipped thousands of dahlia bunches every week from July to September to wholesalers and grocery chains. I well remember the days when I delivered buckets out of the back of our station wagon! Our business has grown and changed since then, but the knowledge we gained about how to keep dahlias fresh as long as possible is still just as valuable.

Perhaps you are providing flowers for a friend’s wedding or another event, and you need to keep your flowers looking fresh and beautiful for the special day. Maybe you just want your kitchen bouquet to last as long as possible so you can enjoy it. Whatever your reason for wanting long-lasting dahlias, we can help. Here are our best tips for getting the most vase life out of your flowers.

Dahlias do not have an extremely long vase life. They’re a very perishable product. This fact means that we do our best to harvest them at their prime, give them excellent post-harvest care, and ensure that they stay cool during transportation. In this article, we’ll give you our best tips and tricks for accomplishing this, and we’ll also talk about the varieties of dahlias that do best and last the longest in vases, installations, and other event uses!

Harvest Dahlias at Their Prime

Ensuring long-lasting dahlias starts the evening before you plan to harvest your flowers. Water well the evening before harvest to ensure a super-hydrated cut. The next morning, harvest only between sunrise and 10am (or before your daytime field heat really sets in) to ensure that your cuts stay cool. You’ll want to harvest directly into clean buckets with a few inches of cold water. At the farm we also add CVBN tabs from Chrysal to increase acidity. Increasing the acidity of your water aids water take-up and also acts as a bactericide. (We use 1/4th of the recommended rate of the CVBN tab and we buy directly from the company.

Provide Excellent Post-Harvest Care

Move the buckets of flowers directly from your garden (or the field you’re harvesting from) into a 40º cooler for at least a 12-hour conditioning period before using. Keeping your dahlias continuously cool from the time you cut them until you set them out at your event really contributes to a longer vase life. We realize not everyone has a large cooler ready to keep flowers cool like we do, but perhaps you could use a garage-fridge or borrow fridge space from a friend or neighbor. You’ll need to make a plan to keep the flowers cool before you even start harvesting them.

Keep Your Dahlias Cool During Transport

On the day of your big event, keep your dahlias as cool as possible on their way to the venue. Try moving them when it’s dark or first thing in the morning before it gets really hot with your air conditioner blasting cool air. We have found that allowing our dahlias to heat back up to room temp and then be re-chilled at any point in the process after picking drastically reduces their vase-life.

The Best Dahlia Varieties for Long-Lasting Vase Life

In general, ball form dahlias tend to have the best vase life, but there are some exceptions to this. The best (and prettiest) way I can think of to let you know our favorite varieties for long-lasting vase life is to walk through the rainbow, so by basic color group, here are our top favorites based on productivity and durability.

Pink and Coral Dahlias

Rebecca Lynn, BLQ Wonderful, Linda’s Baby, Burlesca, Bloomquist Curt, Bloomquist Dave, Jowey Winnie, Sweet Nathalie, KA’s Keltie Rose

Red Dahlias

Cornel, Tahoma Velvet, Chimacum Nadjae, Robinhood, Chick-a-Dee, KA’s Cardinal, KA’s Rosie Jo

Orange and Peach Dahlias

Jowey Nicky, AC Firefly, Jowey Chantal, Terracotta (it’s rare to find such a durable cactus form, but they’re great), Cornel Bronze, Amber Queen, Hy Suntan, Rose Toscano

Yellow and Golden Dahlias

Golden Scepter, Bloomquist Sue, Hollyhill Spreckles, Crichton Honey, Blyton Softer Gleam, Valley Tawny, BLQ Evening Glow, Sandia Susan (this is a waterlily form, but it’s very durable)

Purple, Lavender, and Plum Dahlias

Jessie G, AC White Rabbit, Mary Munns, Bluetiful, Irish Speckles, Bistro, Hollyhill Liz, Martina, Bloomquist Compare, Bloomquist Awesome, Snoho Sonia, Sandia Nocturne

Chocolate and Deep Red Dahlias

Lights Out, Shadow Cat, Moor Place, Karma Choc

White Dahlias

Orsett Beauty, l’Ancresse, White Swan, BLQ Snowy, Salish Snow Day, White Aster, Sandia Icicle, Vista Jake (It’s a novelty form, but it’s very durable)

Bicolor and Tricolor Dahlias

Foxy Lady, Valley Rustbucket, Skipley’s Spot of Gold, Bloomquist Fredene, Bloomquist Jerry

6 thoughts on “Best Dahlias for Cut Flowers”

    1. Hi Emily! I just responded to a very similar question. I’ll go ahead and put the answer here too, because I’m not sure if you’ll see if if I don’t respond directly to your comment. 🙂

      We are curious people, and we’re always experimenting – trying to find the sweet spot of efficiency and efficacy for everything we do at the farm. ☺️
      The first summer we used it, I tried different combos of water and CVB tabs and found it worked well with about 1 tab per gallon of cold water. It protected from bacteria for the shorter time our fresh flowers are actually in water since we pick, design, and sell in such a short time frame. A 1/4 rate also made the water less irritating to our senses, so we stuck with it. You should experiment with what works best for you, in this and I recommend in every area of farm life! Hope that helps!

  1. Thank you very much for this vital information. I have been confused by conflicting advice from various flower farmers who post videos on this topic.
    Your method is simple but requires following exact procedures. That is well suited to my way of doing things which is getting all the details right.
    I was discouraged by recommendation of a hot water treatment and the extra time it would take so I was going to try a hydration product…which was less time consuming.
    Your blog has saved me buying a pricey product that perhaps doesn’t even work that well. Did you try a number of methods and products before you developed the protocol that gets the best results for you?

    1. We are curious people, and we’re always experimenting – trying to find the sweet spot of efficiency and efficacy for everything we do at the farm. ☺️
      The first summer we used it, I tried different combos of water and CVB tabs and found it worked well with about 1 tab per gallon of cold water. It protected from bacteria for the shorter time our fresh flowers are actually in water since we pick, design, and sell in such a short time frame. A 1/4 rate also made the water less irritating to our senses, so we stuck with it. You should experiment with what works best for you, in this and I recommend in every area of farm life! Hope that helps!

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