Dahlia bulbs are a breeder and collector’s dream. Dahlias come in such a wide variety of sizes and colors that there is sure to be a form for any gardener. Dahlia tubers are not terribly winter hardy and will rot in the ground in many regions of gardens. They split in cool temperatures and mold in soggy soil. It is best to dig them up and store them indoor plants for the cold season and then reinstall them in spring.
Dahlia Plant Saving Tips
There are several ways of storing dahlia tubers for the winter season. The difficult part of the process is cleaning and drying. However, even the best methods still require you to inspect the Dahlia tubers occasionally over the course of the winter. Environmental changes in the storage location, such as increased humidity or temperature fluctuations, can still damage overwintering dahlia tubers.
Whether you have the dinner plate sized bombshells or the dainty lollipop variety, it is important to know how to cut out and store dahlia tubers. So, your choice in colder climates is to treat them like annuals or dig dahlias up for storage. Dahlia plant storing only takes a few minutes and a couple of inexpensive materials.
Know How to Remove and Store Dahlia Tubers
Wait until the foliage has turned yellow before digging up the Dahlia tubers. This is important so that the Dahlia plant can gather energy for the following year. It will store starches in the Dahlia tuber which will fuel initial sprouting in summer.
Cut off the foliage and carefully dig out the Dahlia tubers. Brush off heavy dirt and let the tubers dry for a few days. If possible, hang them upside down when drying them so that moisture can leach out of them.
Drying is important to saving dahlia plants over winter and preventing them from rotting. However, they do need to keep slightly humid on the interior to keep the embryo alive. Once the skin is wrinkled, the tubers should be dry enough. Once tubers are dry, they are packed away.
Dahlia Tubers Sorting for Winter
Gardeners differ on the best way to pack over wintering dahlia tubers in the garden. Some swear by packing them in peat moss or sand in trays in an area about 40 to 45 degrees F about 4-7 C. You can also try storing them in a heavy plastic bag with packing material or even a Styrofoam ice chest. Separate the Dahlia roots from each other with cedar chips, peat, or perlite. In temperate zones where cools are not sustained, you can store them in a basement or garage or plant in a paper bag.
Some gardeners advise dusting the Dahlia tubers with a fungicide before packing. Whatever method of dahlia plant storage you choose, you will need to check the tubers occasionally to ensure they are not rotting. Remove any that might be getting rot to prevent them from affecting all the Dahlia tubers.
Plant Dahlias out again after all danger of frost has passed and enjoy their brilliant tones and flashy forms.