Dahlia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Last Updated on July 15, 2020 by Kimberly Crawford

Whether as beautiful bedding flowers in home gardens and good additions to any type of bouquet arrangement, there is something that is both brooding and settling when it comes to the dahlia flower.

But more than just an organic eye candy, you must know that there are deeper meanings associated to the dahlia.

Well, almost all flowers are given symbolic associations but the dahlia has one of the most beautiful ones and we will cover those up in this post. 

Dahlia flower fun facts

Dahlia flower fun facts

Before we get to the serious part, let us not leave the fun facts just yet. There might be a thing or two that you do not know about the dahlia flower so before we go profound, here are some dahlia flower fun facts that you must know first. 

  • Dahlias are botanically related to daisies and sunflowers as they all belong to the Asteraceae family. 
  • The dahlia flower has 42 species and 20,000 cultivars and counting. 
  • Dahlias are hardier than most flowers as they bloom bright from midsummer to early winter. 
  • The first species of dahlia were recorded in 1615 by conquistadors and were forgotten only to be rediscovered in 1787 by European botanists. 
  • Because it grows as tubers, dahlias were cultivated as root crops by the Aztecs until the Spanish regime took over. 
  • It was widely cultivated in Great Britain and the commonwealth countries being the favorite flower of the court of Queen Victoria because of its perfect petal symmetry. 
  • It is the national flower of Mexico and the state flower of Seattle and San Francisco. 

Related: How to propagate Dahlia flower

What does the name Dahlia mean?

What does the name Dahlia mean?

Dahlia is one of the most popular baby girl names in the world today along with other flower names like Azalea, Lily and Magnolia.

It is considered as a Scandinavian name which means Dahl’s flower after the name of the botanist, Anders Dahl, who first recorded it.

In biblical texts, Dahlia is believed to have been derived from the Hebrew word delaya and its variant delayahu which means Yahweh has drawn (near), following the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. 

Dahlia flower meaning

Dahlia flower meaning

Unlike other meaning associations for flowers, dahlia flower meaning has more dynamics to it.

The dahlia symbolizes grace and kindness in the midst of pressure and life setbacks. It also means finding one’s inner strength to succeed in adversities but at the other end, it also signifies commitment to someone or to something.

While it is also associated with standing out and being unique as well as embarking in a life changing decision or journey, the dahlia is also associated with warnings of betrayal (which makes it more interesting when it comes to symbolisms compared to other flowers). 

Etymological meaning of Dahlia

Etymologically speaking, the dahlia flower was named after the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl who recorded it taxonomically as a vegetable because of its edible tubers in the 1800s.

It is also etymologically associated with the English word dale which means a very broad valley but also with the Spanish word dale which means hurry up.

Countries such as Germany, Sweden and those that belong in the Scandinavian region clung to the English word dale and as such, etymologically refers to dahlia to mean as great valley.  

Dahlia meaning in different cultures and religions

Dahlia meaning in different cultures and religions

The flower dahlia also comes with many cultural and historical backgrounds.

In the course of the Victorian era, the dahlia is a symbol of romance. It is added in wedding bouquets to signify eternal bond and floral wrist bands in social dances to accentuate budding romances.

In biblical texts, the Hebrew derivative of dahlia, delayu, is mentioned twenty-three times including the story when Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac to re-establish the good relationship between God and His people.

In modern day context, having a potted dahlia at home signifies joining a new religion or new life habits. Eastern cultures regard it as an August flower while Western cultures consider it as a November flower.

In Mexico and South America, it is called the Queen of the Autumn Garden because it can bloom longer than most flowers. 

In a more practical sense, the dahlia in its entirety was once of the staple foods of the Aztecs. During the period of conquest and imperialism, its edible tuber roots were the saving grace of French peasant villages when the majority of their potato crops all died during the famine.

In 19th century medicine, the dahlia was also instrumental as it was the first organic source of insulin, hence, benchmarking future breakthroughs in treating diabetes. 

Dahlia tattoo meaning

As a tattoo design, the dahlia flower would really send a strong message to anyone who knows about its deeper symbolism.

It is a good design for anyone who has been craving for a fresh start or those who are happy about the decision.

It is also a good reminder of what you have survived in the process of following one’s dream and staying grounded for whatever it is that is yet to come.

So all in all, when inked, dahlia flowers mean inner strength, standing firm, knowing what you want, and being unapologetically focused on the things you want. 

Dahlia flower colors & meaning

Dahlia flower colors and meaning

As phenomenal as it already is, dahlia flower meanings could also be categorized uniquely in terms of the flower’s colors. This will come in handy when you choose one to give as a gift or to pot one in your home. 

Black Dahlia flower

It is not really botanically black but deep burgundy. This color is the one that is associated with warnings of betrayal. 

Red Dahlia flower

Considered as a color of power, red dahlias denote inner strength, ability to rise above challenges as well as love and commitment. 

White Dahlia flower

This one is associated with purity, innocence, humility and staying focused.  

Yellow Dahlia flower

This breed represents childhood, playfulness, joy and happiness. 

Pink Dahlia flower

This color is also associated to love but mostly with friendship, gratitude and grace. 

Blue Dahlia flower

Although a very recent breed, blue dahlias represent seizing moments and opportunities, taking the big leap and embarking on fresh starts. 

Purple Dahlia flower

It shares the same meaning with the pink dahlia but with the addition of dignity and kindness. 

Symbolism of the Dahlia flower

Dahlias come with many symbolisms. For the romantics of the Victorian era, it symbolized undying love, commitment and unsevered bond.

It is also a beautiful going away gift for someone aching to have a fresh start as it signifies taking bold steps to start anew.

It is also considered as the birth flower for both August and November and the national flower for Mexico and significant in Seattle and San Francisco with it as their state flower. But most importantly, it has grown to be a symbol of diversity with its many colors and petal symmetry. 

Message of the Dahlia flower

Ultimately, the first and most distinct meaning of the dahlia flower is to remain graceful in the midst of life challenges.

Its symmetrical petals and unique beauty is a good message of blooming where one is planted with relentless grace, resilience, level-headedness and morality.

It is also a flower whose message is finding inner strength, being humble and kind through it all.

And the most relatable message the dahlia signifies is that, it is always okay to pursue fresh starts, that it is never too late to change for the better and to always stand out in the crowd when opportunity presents itself. 

Uses of Dahlia flower

The dahlia flower is more than just a beautiful bouquet piece because it does offer a wide range of uses.

For one, it is one of the favorite food ingredients of native Oaxacan cuisine, a region in Mexico.

Second, it is widely used in today’s food and dessert garnishing, specifically for contemporary ‘naked’ cakes and pastries.

Third, it is also used as dyes since the flower comes in a variety of colors. For many Mexican indigenous communities, the dahlia flower is dried and then cooked to extract its colors.

The colors extracted from it are turned into weaving ritual textiles.

Fourth, it also comes with a lot of medicinal properties specifically in insulin production, thanks to its starchy tubers. As a matter of fact, it was called the Atlantic starch before the discovery of insulin. It was also used by the Aztecs in treating epilepsy. 


meaning of dahlia flower

To conclude, the dahlia has one of the most dynamic meanings, symbolisms and associations.

It stands out from typical meaning associations of flowers because it veers away from typical symbolisms.

It does not only talk of strength but that of inner strength. It not only signifies resilience but highlights the human capability to maintain grace, humility and kindness through pressures and life setbacks.

And in between these meanings, the dahlia reminds us how the want for change, adventure and challenge are underrated perks of making the most out of life. If that is not the most beautiful flower symbolism out there, I do not know what is.