A Rare Beauty Black Dahlia Meaning, Kinds, and Care Tips

A Rare Beauty: Black Dahlia | Meaning, Kinds, and Care Tips

There’s something mysterious and dramatic about black dahlias that just grabs people’s attention. Their rich crimson tint and dark, almost black, appearance provide so much contrast when paired with other flowers, causing them to stand out.

Some of them even grow to the size of a dinner plate, making them look even more regal and majestic!

Hence, it’s no surprise that many are curious about these beautiful flowers. As such, we’ve provided a rundown on their meanings, varieties, and even care tips to help anyone interested in them!

Basic Facts about the Black Dahlia

Basic Facts about the Black Dahlia

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Dahlia

Life Cycle: Perennial

Bloom Period: Mid-summer to fall

Black dahlia belongs to the Asteraceae family and is a variety of the Dahlia genus. This means they belong to the same family as chrysanthemums, daisies, asters, dandelions, and sunflowers.

They are warm-season perennials that spread from tubers underground.

Despite there being over 20,000 varieties of dahlias, only a little over 20 varieties are black dahlias, so they’re a very rare type of dahlia. They also only bloom from mid-summer to fall, making them even harder to get.

Dahlias generally can be eaten, so the same goes for black dahlias. However, you have to be more careful with them compared to other dahlia varieties.

Some black dahlias contain harmful chemicals, so they’re dangerous when taken. They’re toxic to dogs and cats, so make sure they’re far from their reach.

Physical Descriptions of the Black Dahlia

Physical Descriptions of the Black Dahlia

Despite being named Black Dahlia, these flowers aren’t really black. They have a dark crimson and purple tint that is sometimes very dark, causing them to appear black.

Some black dahlias also have bright yellow centers that perfectly contrast their dark-colored petals.

The size of black dahlias depends on the variety. Some can have a diameter of a few inches to a foot and a height of 2 to 6 feet.

Their shapes and structure also depend on the variety. Some dahlias can have single or double blooms and ball-shaped or star-shaped heads.

Origin of the Black Dahlia Flower

Origin of the Black Dahlia Flower

Black dahlias are a variety of the Dahlia genus that has deep red and purple colors, so their origin is essentially the same as any other dahlias out there.

Abbe Cavanilles, director of Botanical Gardens in Madrid, named dahlias after the Swedish scientist and environmentalist Andreas Dahl. But these flowers didn’t originate in Sweden or any other European countries.

Black dahlias were first seen in Mesoamerica, mainly in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Because these countries don’t have severe winters, dahlias thrive as perennials.

Unlike today when many use dahlias as decorations and gifts, they were mostly eaten back in the day. Many Aztec people also used their hollow stems as water canes.

The first time these flowers were grown in Europe was in the 18th century at the Botanical Gardens in Madrid. After that, many other European countries also started growing them, which led to them being named after a Swedish scientist.

Today, you’ll find over a thousand varieties of dahlias, with every color you can think of. The varieties of black dahlias have also evolved and multiplied because of many developments.

However, black dahlias are still not that common in home gardens compared to other varieties of dahlias.

Meaning and Symbolism of Black Dahlia Flower

Meaning and Symbolism of Black Dahlia Flower

The symbolism of flowers is mainly derived from their colors, like how red is often associated with love and passion, while yellow is associated with happiness and positivity. 

The same goes for the black dahlias, that’s why their associated meaning is not that bright.

Black has always been associated with some dark and sad meanings. The darkness of the black dahlia and its red tint that’s similar to blood made the flower a symbol of death, mourning, brutality, and sadness.

This symbolism became even more apparent when Elizabeth Short was gruesomely murdered in Leimert Park. During the media coverage of the murder, Short was referred to as black dahlia.

However, not all varieties of black dahlias have bad meanings. Some black dahlias that have more of a purple hue are used to symbolize power and ambition.

Kinds of Black Dahlia Flowers

There are just around 20 different types of black dahlias, making them one of the rarest flower families. Their dark, mysterious, and dramatic hue, however, continues to pique the interest of many.

Here are some of the most popular varieties that may capture your attention:

Dahlia ‘Tamburo’

Dahlia ‘Tamburo’

This kind of black dahlia is more striking than other kinds because of its long and pointy petals that have a deep and velvety burgundy-maroon color.

These dahlias can grow up to 3 feet tall and can have a 4-inch flower head, which is quite compact compared to other varieties.

Black Embers Dahlia

Black Embers Dahlia

Compared to other black dahlias, black embers dahlias are noticeably lighter and more reddish. The deep crimson petals of these blooms give them a striking, almost lustrous appearance. 

Their flowers are striking but not too bold, making them an excellent choice if you want refined and elegant dahlias. They’re also perfect for use as decorations and gifts because of their long stems and large, dinner-plate-sized blooms.

Black Jack Dahlia

Black Jack Dahlia

Black jack dahlias are one of the darkest varieties of black dahlias. Their petals have a hint of a velvety deep red shade, but they’re almost black, especially in the center.

Their round form and spiky petals together with their dark color make them one of the most majestic varieties of black dahlias.

Black Magic Dahlia

Black Magic Dahlia

Black magic dahlias are majestic and stunning with their tall height and single-bloom textured petals. Their petals sport a dramatic deep red wine color, which is practically black in the center, and bright maroon tips.

Lights Out Dahlia

Lights Out Dahlia

Lights out dahlia has large mahogany to almost black, soft, velvety, double blooms that are perfect for formal events.

This variety is a bit smaller than other kinds, growing to a mature height of 2–3 feet and a diameter of 4 inches, making them excellent choices for vases and bouquets.

Sam Hopkins Dahlia

Sam Hopkins Dahlia

Sam Hopkins dahlia has glossy deep blackberry-red colored petals that form a uniquely-shaped bloom. Each head has a tall and robust stem that doesn’t topple over even when it’s raining.

Fidalgo Blacky Dahlia

Fidalgo Blacky Dahlia

This beautiful black dahlia features blackberry pie-colored petals that are almost completely black at the center. They can grow to a mature height of 3.5–4 feet and a diameter of 4 inches.

You’ll find these in flower shops from mid-summer to early fall.

Dahlia ‘Honka Black’

Dahlia ‘Honka Black’

This type of black dahlia is for those who love unique and unusual flowers. Unlike most dahlias that are double bloom and ball-type, this Honka Black is a single-bloom flower that has a star-like structure.

Its petals are a deep red color that’s practically black when fully matured, a great contrast from its bright yellow-colored center. They’re also spiky, making them even more striking.

Black Wizard Dahlia

Black Wizard Dahlia

Black wizard dahlia is a semi-cactus dahlia that has a wine-purple, almost black center and vibrant red petal tips. It has multiple layers of petals that are quite spiky, making it more attention-grabbing.

This specific variety is on the bigger size, growing to a mature height of 4–5 feet.

Arabian Night Dahlia

Arabian Night Dahlia

The Arabian night variety is among the most sought-after kinds of black dahlias in the world. These blooms have a round form, decorated with velvety dark crimson petals that can sometimes look almost black.

They look quite similar to black embers and black satin dahlias. What distinguishes Arabian night dahlias from the other two are their smaller petals and they can only grow up to 4 inches.

Hollyhill Black Dahlia

Hollyhill Black Dahlia

Hollyhill black dahlias are one of the largest varieties of black dahlias, with blooms growing up to 6 inches. They have a vase life of 5 to 6 days, close to the average vase life of most dahlias.

This variety features dome-shaped glossy dark red shade petals that make them stand out when combined with bright-colored flowers.

Dahlia Night Butterfly

Dahlia Night Butterfly

Another type of black dahlia that’s widely known in the world is Night Butterfly. These flowers offer a vibrant yellow center and rounded dark maroon petals.

The white and pink small petals separating the dark, almost black, maroon petals and the yellow center make these flowers even more beautiful.

Karma Choc Dahlia

Karma Choc Dahlia

Karma choc dahlias, when cared for correctly, have a vase life of 7–12 days, making them one of the longest-lasting varieties of black dahlias. 

The core petals of this type are a deep, rich chocolate brown, while the tips are a dark, rich crimson. They can reach a diameter of 4 to 6 inches but are quite light compared to other varieties of the same size since they need smaller amounts of water.

Black Monarch Dahlia

Black Monarch Dahlia

True to their name, black monarch dahlias are quite the royalties among the varieties of black dahlias because of their size. Growing at a diameter of 10 inches and a height of 1.2 meters, this type is a giant among its peers.

It has a rich and deep maroon center that’s surrounded by a lighter crimson color. Because of its size and majestic color, it’s one of the popular black dahlias.

Black Satin Dahlia

Black Satin Dahlia

Black satin dahlias are almost similar to black embers in appearance. Black satins just have much smaller petals compared to the elongated and triangular petals of black embers.

These flowers have semi-double blooms and velvety deep red petals that make them elegant and perfect for formal decorations.

Taking Care of Black Dahlias

Taking Care of Black Dahlias

Black dahlias are extremely rare, so it’s understandable to want to prolong their life when you receive them as gifts. Dahlias, though, have a relatively short vase life of only 3 to 4 days.

There are some types that may stay alive for 7 to 12 days, but there are not many of them.

Here, we’ll help you maximize their life, and possibly extend it to up to 2 to 3 days.

Which type of black dahlias last the longest?

Which type of black dahlias last the longest

If you want black dahlias that last long, consider the size of the flower head. 

Smaller and more compact black dahlias usually last longer than the larger ones because the dinner plate-sized blooms are usually too heavy for the stems to support. 

Another thing you should consider is the form of the flowers. Choose the ball-type and dome-shaped black dahlias that usually last longer than the uniquely shaped ones.

Tips to Make Black Dahlias Last Longer

Here are 7 things you can do to extend your beautiful black dahlias life:

1. Cut the stem at an angle

Cut the stem at an angle

Your black dahlias will have a much larger surface area for water absorption if the stem is cut at an angle.

It would be even better if you’ll cut it underwater since this prevents air bubbles from forming. We want to avoid air bubbles as much as possible since they block water absorption, causing the flower to die and wither.

2. Remove any leaves that will touch the water

Remove any leaves that will touch the water

Make sure that all leaves staying on the stem don’t touch the water. This is because water causes leaves to decay and release bacteria, which can be harmful to the flowers.

3. Use a clean and clear glass vase

Use a clean and clear glass vase

The glass material of the vase will prevent chemical reactions from forming between the vase and water, making it an excellent choice for cut black dahlias.

The black dahlias also benefit from having more airflow thanks to a transparent glass container. Don’t worry about getting musky and cloudy water since dahlia stems aren’t susceptible to that.

4. Soak in hot or warm water with flower food

Soak in hot or warm water with flower food

Use hot or warm water for cut black dahlias. Black dahlias usually last longer in warm water rather than in cool tap water.

Just make sure, though, that if you put other flowers with the dahlias, they can tolerate warm water. Some flowers may die if placed in warm water, so better to check first. 

Add some flower food too, as it helps in keeping the flowers fresh.

5. Prop the head up with other blooms

Prop the head up with other blooms

Black dahlias usually have big and heavy flower heads, so they can be too heavy for the stem to support. Use other flowers to give the stem a bit of support in holding the bloom.

6. Clean the vase and change the water every two days

Clean the vase and change the water every two days

Bacterias will usually grow in the vase water if it’s not regularly changed, which can cause your black dahlias to die faster. Hence, you should change it every two days to make sure your dahlias are safe.

Make sure to clean the vase too, since the bacteria that formed there may mix with the new and clean water.

7. Cut the stems every time the water is changed

Cut the stems every time the water is changed

Every time you change the vase water, trim the stem to remove any sections that have developed air bubbles. This will help the flowers retain water and look beautiful for longer.