Digging and Storing the Dahlias

'Lolipop'

It is generally advised to dig and store dahlias during the winter in cold and wet climates. From what I've heard from gardeners here, not many do that and they say their dahlias return. I'm digging them up anyway because, for one thing, I'm always unhappy with where I place them and I've yet to find a satisfying location.

We had our first frost last week and the dahlias looked like this -


 

 This is the procedure I use -


 


 

I cut the foliage down to the ground. I use a pitchfork to gently loosen the soil and rock it back and forth. I then lift the clump out of the ground and wash away the soil with a strong spray from my hose nozzle.

 


 

I wait until next spring to divide the tubers but I do go ahead and cut away the ones that have rotting or look disfigured.

 


I wrap the tubers in a paper bag and place it in a box. Label them if you don't want to loose the name.

 


 Before putting them in the box, I spread a thin layer of wood chips on the bottom.

 


I place additional wood chips over the top. You can use a variety of materials for this (shredded paper, peat moss, vermiculite, etc.), any material that will stay damp.

 


Store them in a cool pace that doesn't freeze (40-50 degrees is good).  Place them on a shelf or a bench and not on a concrete floor where moisture develops. Check them once every month to see that the tubers are not drying out. 

Do you dig your dahlias? What methods do you use?

 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Comments

  1. Technically, in our dry climate here in Southern California, digging the tubers isn't necessary but, as mine are planted in the raised beds of my cutting garden, which is routinely irrigated to grow cool season flowers, I dig my tubers up, also using a pitchfork. In addition to cleaning them, I'm dividing them before storage this year, partly just to conserve space. I've previously stored mine in vermiculite but this year I'm trying a method learned from a video tutorial produced by Floret Flowers, wrapping each tuber in saran wrap before tucking them into a container with vermiculite as a cushion in a cool dry spot in our garage.

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    Replies
    1. I just saw the saran wrap method a few days ago. There are so many different methods.

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  2. That is one big clump of Lollipop. I have dug up other bulbs in the past and just put them into a paper bag. They seemed to be ok in the spring. I usually cleaned and divided in the spring. I don't have any I have to do that with now days.

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  3. Only once did I ever manage to lift and store my dahlias, and thought storing them in the garage up against the house would provide enough warmth. Nope, they all froze anyway. Now I don't bother, which gives me an excuse to try out new ones each year. Our winter last year was quite mild, and my laziness was rewarded, and they all grew back! I do have one dahlia that returns every single year, called Dazzling Magic. When I looked it up, it said it was hardy to zone 2! So you might like to give that one a shot.

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  4. I have a few Dahlias, but never bother digging them up. My gardening Moto is "less (work) is better". To my delight, they return every summer, consistently. I have lost just one Dahlia over the years and figured it's wasn't meant for me.

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