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How To Store Dahlias in Winter

Category: Flower Gardens, How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"


If you live in a cold climate (Zone 6 and colder) you need to dig up your dahlia tubers before the ground freezes, and store them for the winter if you want them to live. More and more people are discovering the beauty of growing dahlias and many of us are learning this Fall ritual.


I received a dahlia plant from my friend Kathy Scherer last Spring. Kathy and her husband have built a beautiful garden in Pawling which is open to the public one day a year through The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. The dahlia she gave me is called Mrs. Eileen, and it grew about 3′ tall with coral colored, medium-sized blossoms. This was my initiation into the world of growing dahlias.dahliafrost

Previously we featured the famous ceramicist and gardener, Frances Palmer’s dahlia garden in an issue of “The Curious Gardener”. Her garden in Weston, CT is also open to the public one day a year through the Open Days program. In an email last week she said she would soon start pulling her dahlia tubers out of the ground for the winter. She has hundreds of plants, so this is a project that takes quite a bit of time. Click here to read our story from “The Curious Gardener” about her garden and how to grow dahlias.

We donned our “Digger” garden gloves and followed her step-by-step instructions in our garden, reprinted here from a story in Connecticut magazine.

Step 1: Cut off the stalks to about 6-10 inches above ground.

dahliatubersstep1Step 2: With a shovel or pitch fork, gently work around the perimeter of the plant and try to find how far the tubers are extending under the soil.

dahliatubersstep2Step 3: Carefully bring the plant up out of the ground in one piece. If some tubers fall off, these can be stored as well. Remove any rotted ones (I had one rotten tuber in the bunch).

dahliatubersstep3Step 4: Lay the tubers in a cardboard box with peat moss or sawdust covering the bottom of the box.

dahliatubersstep4Step 5: Fill the box with tubers and then gently fill the box with additional peat moss or sawdust. Close the box and store in a cool basement – 40 to 50 degrees is ideal.

Labeling your tubers with a tag attached to the stalk will help when you replant them in the spring.

7 thoughts on “How To Store Dahlias in Winter

  1. helen harshman-edwards says:

    My dahlias still haven’t bloomed. Why?

  2. Arlene M Geist says:

    Only tubers w/”eyes” will produce a plant.

  3. Is this their first year? What zone are you in?

  4. Hi Serena, this will be the 2nd year I am storing these particular tubers for the winter. I live in zone 6 in NY State.

  5. Make sure the tubers are dry before storing. I lost 10 my first year because they became moldy.

  6. Hi Dorian, I have been storing my dahlias in pine shaving with mix results since I usually loose a half of them from dryness. I don’t have this problem with callas and gladioli. Do you think that peat moss maintains the humidity better? I also add a dust of sulfur as anti fungus.

  7. I think I would check on the tubers periodically and if they seem dry spritz them with a little water.

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