Simple Division: Dahlias for Next Year

With a little care this fall, your dahlias will be better than ever next year!

By FamilyTime


Cheerful, colorful, dahlias are considered annuals by many gardeners but in reality, they come back every year. And each year they are better than ever.

This is good news for flower lovers, as dahlias are among the more expensive of the annuals.

While some gardeners leave the dahlias in the ground all winter, insulted with about 10 inches of mulch, this does not work in most regions of the country where the ground freezes and is often blanketed with snow. For most of us, it’s necessary to dig up the dahlia tubers and store them for spring planting.

How to Dig Up the Tubers

The best time to dig up your dahlias is about a week or 10 days after the first frost. This gives the in-ground tubers time to harden a little, which will help them last through the winter.

Before the frost, cut the foliage and stems back to about six inches.

Use a garden fork or similar tool to dig out the dahlias. Take great care when you do so by creating a large radius around the plants. Nicks and bumps can damage the tubers so that they rot during overwintering.

How to Prepare the Tubers

Gently rinse the tubers with the hose. A soft spray is best. Shake the tuber clumps and then let them air dry for a few hours or for up to 24 hours.

You can divide the tubers now or wait until spring. Some gardeners prefer to store the clumps without dividing. When you divide them, use a small knife and again, take care not to damage them.

For the tuber to produce new growth, it must have an eye, which is nothing more than a bump of new bud. This will swell a little in the spring and be easier to discern.

If any of the tubers are shriveled and dried up, either now or in the spring, discard them. Nevertheless, give a questionable tuber the benefit of the doubt!

How to Store the Tubers

Store the dry tubers in a plastic bag, tub, or wooden box. Bury them in peat moss, saw dust, or vermiculite. Do not seal the bag or box; the dahlia tubers need some ventilation.

To make it through the winter, the dahlias should be held between 40° and 50°F. This might be an attached but unheated garage, an unheated portion of the basement or attic, or an enclosed porch.

Check the tubers a few times during the winter and if they seem dried out, provide a little moisture to the packing medium. Do not drench it!

Come spring, the dahlia tubers will be ready for planting and for providing you with even more glorious blooms than last year.