Tabletop Flowers: Dahlias Without Water{16}

Rachel's Floral Dreamscape

A floral dreamscape worthy of the couple in love

I had the pleasure of providing flowers for a friend’s wedding this summer, and in the process learned a thing or two about tabletop floral displays, namely that dahlia blossoms perform beautifully out of water. Who knew? I also learned that some love seems as natural, and effortless as breathing. Congratulations Rachel and Dan!

The bride and groom invited their friends and family to a welcoming outdoor venue boasting open fields flanked by towering firs and dotted with teepees and buildings of rustic charm. When my friend Nancy, the mother of the bride, told me of her idea for a tablescape (my ten-cent florist term), I was skeptical that it would work. In my mind, all I could see was a table-length trail of wilted, flattened, mostly dead flowers.

Weeks before the wedding, when I first I heard of the floral plan, I wanted to say, “Ummmm, that just won’t work.” But before this big flower farmer ogre dashed anyone’s dreams of a dream wedding, I thought it best to reframe my opposition into experimentation with the flowers in question. How long would a dahlia look good out of water? Well, I’m no flower physicist, but I did my best to enlist my tabletop laboratory for a little dry run (so to speak).

I simply cut a variety of dahlias in full bloom, removed the stem, and arranged them face up on my front porch table. I expected noodle-soft petals within hours. Instead here’s what I found: healthy, bright dahlias, completely intact and without a wilted petal among the lot. Take a look for yourself.

Dahlias Without Water Experiment

dahlias without water just cut

Freshly cut dahlias (left to right): Alfred Grille, Bantling, Eveline, American Dawn; bottom row, Thomas Edison, Big Brother, and Cafe au Lait.

After Six Hours


Six hours later, the dahlias still look great, no wilting or dehydration.

After 24 Hours


One day later and the dahlias still look remarkably fresh. The larger decorative informal type on the bottom row have a few droopy outer petals. The upper row, pompom and ball dahlias, fare even better with smaller, stiffer petals and compact size.

After 48 Hours

Dahlias without water day 2

I was quite surprised that even after two days out of water, the dahlias still had a welcomed place at the table (make that, on the table).

There you have it: Dahlias without water, and a wonderful way to decorate a table. Vases need not apply.

And while I love dahlias, these two bright blooms really stole the show.


Congratulations Dan and Rachel!