Tips for storing your dahlias
Dahlias tubers can be enjoyed for years with proper handling in the fall. Follow these easy tips from National Garden Bureau member American Meadows on how to dig and store your dahlias tubers.
Native to Mexico, dahlias won’t survive the freezing temperatures that many North American gardens experience. Digging and storing dahlias for the winter is extremely easy and simple if you follow these tips.
When to dig up your dahlias…
If you live in an area where the ground freezes, you’ll want to dig your dahlia tubers up before there’s a hard frost.
A good indication of when to dig your tubers up is when the plant starts to turn brown and die back.
What’s the difference between a frost and a freeze?
A frost (ice crystals forming on surfaces) generally happens when the air temperature is between 36-32 degrees F.
A freeze happens when air temperature dips below 32 degrees F. A hard freeze is usually between 28-25 degrees F, and a killing freeze is 24 degrees F and below.
Digging the dahlia tubers up is extremely easy:
Cut foliage back, so that only a couple of inches remain above ground.
Take your preferred digging shovel and dig around the tubers, being careful not to accidentally sever the roots. Many gardeners use a pitchfork to prevent this from happening.
Once you’ve dug the tuber up, shake the dirt off and set it aside.
Repeat until you’ve dug all of your tubers up.
Rising dahlia tubers off
After you’ve dug all of the tubers up, gently wash the dirt off in a tub of water, or with a garden hose.
Make sure not to puncture the skin of your tubers, as this could cause them to rot over the winter months in storage.
Examining and trimming dahlia tubers
After you’ve rinsed the tubers off, it’s time to examine each clump to make sure that there are no rotten parts. If there are, cut these bits off.
If the tubers have several eyes, you can divide them at this step in the process as well. Use a sharp knife to divide tubers, making sure each piece has at least one eye
The eyes of dahlias are the set of cells that produce the next season’s plants and blooms. They almost look like pimples! If you can’t identify them in the fall, wait until the spring to divide your tubers as they may be more visible by then.
Drying Dahlia Tubers Before Storing For Winter
The key to successfully storing dahlia tubers for the winter is making sure they stay dry, have good air circulation, and are in a cool, dark spot.
You can store the tubers in a variety of containers – milk crates, plastic bins, paper bags, and cardboard boxes all do the trick. Just make sure there is space left between each tuber and there is some air circulation.
Place the tubers in a cool, dark space that won’t freeze. For many, this could be an unheated basement, attic, closet, or utility room.
Re-Planting Dahlias In Spring
Once spring arrives, ground temperatures have warmed and there is no more chance of frost in your area, you can bring your beloved tubers out of storage and re-plant them in your garden to enjoy again and continue to enjoy your dahlias for years to come.
Special thanks to the National Garden Bureau for helpful gardening tips.