Healthy Dahlia Tubers Make Happy Dahlia Flowers

By Amy Grant | September 29, 2020
by Amy Grant
September 29, 2020

I love, no, adore flowers! I don’t discriminate, as I’m equally enamored by wildflowers, perennials, blooming fruit trees, and shrubs, but the blooms I love best are the spring bulbs. They are some of the first signs of colorful plant life after a long and dreary winter. Still, it’s the lovely dahlia blooms that thrive in my garden.

Where Spring Bulbs Fail, Dahlia Blooms Hearty and Hale

Due to my love of spring bulbs you would think my yard is rife with them, but you would be wrong. Here’s the thing, I have planted hundreds of bulbs in my lifetime with very little to show for it. When I was first learning to garden, I suspect I paid scant attention to the depth I planted the bulbs and/or which end is up

Since then I’ve learned a few things, but I still don’t seem to have much luck. I dream of a home landscape covered with colorful spring blooms, but so far it hasn’t happened. I blame it on the squirrels that seem to like the bulbs as much as I do.

What I have had luck with are dahlias. Yes, dahlias are not bulbs; they’re tubers, but let’s not split hairs. Related to the cheery sunflower, daisy, and zinnia, dahlia flowers make me happy with their myriad of shapes and brilliant hues. Plus, they bloom all summer and into fall with little to no additional care other than watering.

The thing is I moved from a climate where dahlia tubers could be left to their own devices in the winter to one where they must be removed from the soil and then stored just so. It took some experimenting, but now that I am used to digging up tubers each fall and storing them lovingly over the chilly winter, I couldn’t be happier – and so are my dahlias.

Storing Dahlia Tubers Over Winter

So how do you store dahlia tubers successfully over winter? Wait until the first frost and then dig the plant up, careful not to damage the tubers. Allow the tubers to dry for a few days in a frost-free area and then brush excess soil off them.

Store them in a perforated box or basket in moist (not wet!) peat moss (or vermiculite or sand) in a cool area. Keep an eye on them through the winter to make sure none are rotting or too dry. If dry, mist lightly with water.

Even though I have a stash of tubers to replant each spring, that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to add to the collection. The only thing that’s stopping me is the space in my garden. Maybe I shouldn’t be so careful when I store them this year. That way, I’d HAVE to buy some new dahlias!

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