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.

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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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Fall and Winter Color Class with Jim Locke

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With the weather changing, many of us wonder what comes next? Are we doomed to a dreary winter of bare soil and stripped foliage? How can we inject some color into our fall and winter gardens?

This Saturday, Jim Locke of Van Klaveren’s nursery comes to the Garden Spot for a free class on trees and shrubs for fall and winter color. A friendly fellow with a dynamite knowledge of plants, we are all looking forward to what should be a fun and informative event.

We talked with Jim about his life in gardening last week, and here’s what we learned…

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How did you get into horticulture?

I’ve been doing this since I was sixteen years old. Back then, I actually worked at a retail nursery in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

 Who was your biggest influence?

Probably a nursery inspector had the most influence on me staying in this field and going to college. He came by to chat fairly often, and his advice really stuck with me.

What do you like to grow?

Everything, but probably if I had to pick one, I’d say vegetables. This year we had a great chard crop as well as lettuce and carrots.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Well I’m lucky enough to work on a fourteen-acre nursery. So I just have to walk outside and see all the beautiful plants to get inspired.

When would you say is the best time to plant trees and shrubs?

I really believe that fall is for planting. Things are cooling down and plants can acclimate before the heat of the summer. The only downside is, you may not find all the plant material you want this time of year.

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If you’d like to join us on Saturday, just call our store: 360-676-5480, or click here to register online. This class is free and starts at 9am.