How to Store Your Dahlias for Winter

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Dahlias, with their rich colors and spiky petals, are a dazzling addition to any garden. One caveat is that because they originated in Mexico and Central America, they are not always able to survive our long, wet winters here in the northwest. If you don’t have particularly good drainage in your garden, you should consider digging up your dahlias.

Deb is here to show you how to prep your dahlia tubers for winter storage in 3 easy steps.

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Step 1

Once you’ve dug up your dahlia, brush off all the dirt you can get off with your hands. Then wash them down really well. Deb says you can go even farther than shown in this photo. You want to prevent damp soil from causing rot. So really hose them down.

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Step 2

At this point, you can store your dahlia tubers or if you’ve no space for big clumps…you can break them up with something sharp like a hori hori knife as seen in this picture. For those of you who are breaking up your dahlia tubers, discard rotted tubers or those that you might have cut through.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to divide dahlias since they don’t have ‘eyes’ at this time of year. If you feel uncertain, go ahead and wait until the spring.

dahlia tubers pic

Step 3

Let your tubers dry for at least one week. Any wounds should callus over and the tuber will look like a russet potato when dry with netted skin.

Store them inside a cardboard box or other breathable material. They have to be able to breath, or they will rot. For packing material you can use sawdust, straw, vermiculite or shredded paper. Make sure that the bulbs don’t touch each other. As Deb says, “you wouldn’t want one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch”!

Place them in an unheated garage or basement that doesn’t freeze. You are looking for a cool dry place. The reason being that if it’s too warm, the dahlia tubers will begin to sprout prematurely.

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Voila! Your dahlias are ready to overwinter. Check on them periodically to remove any that might be rotting despite your careful prep. This can happen to the best of us.

In the meantime, make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with some seed catalogs until it’s time to replant next spring.

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