Let’s find out how to prepare dahlias for winter!
My first year growing Dahlias…what can I say? – I am in LOVE ❤️
The picture you see was taken in the early summer during the first bloom of these ‘Labyrinth‘ Dinner plate Dahlias. Have you ever seen such a display – such unbridled beauty?! Why did you plant them you ask? Simple answer…because of my Dad.
I grew up hearing the stories of my grandfather growing Dahlias – Dahlias that grew over the heads of most people standing beside them; Dahlias that stood out for their beauty and magnificence along the street that my father grew up on in Saskatchewan. I’ve seen old black and white photographs of my Dad as a young boy standing beside them – towering over his head – blooms LARGER than his head in fact!
They always seemed like such an extravagant annual to me…19 years of living on this property and I never got around to trying them…until this year! My focus was always on perennials…come again plantings of hardy individuals that would make my ‘job‘ as a gardener easier…more long-lasting.
It’s time we redefine ‘long-lasting‘ to incorporate annuals that return again and again to our northern gardens…ready to plant the next spring because of some simple steps we take to carry them through the winter. In my mind, it’s well worth the effort…and I suspect you’d agree.😊
The rewards are intangible…beauty in our homes, on our properties where we live. Yes – it may seem trivial, but the way it uplifts our spirits and ignites our inspiration to move forward in difficult times, well, THAT is not a small gift. It truly is the ‘feed your soul‘ element of gardening that I will always unapologetically embrace!
In our garden, these charmers have bloomed from June to frost…BRAVO!…these beauties have earned my highest regard for their sturdy growth and generous show of flowers throughout the summer and fall.
How do you know when they are ready to be ‘dug up’?
First frost – the black leaves and unmistakable signs of “I am done now!” will be on your Dahlia plants. If you dig them before they have blackened and been hit by the cold – apparently – they will not store as well over winter. I can attest to that now, after a successful over-wintering of tubers following this rule of thumb.
By the way – the white alyssum you see in the above photograph are impressive…these little annuals are tough buggers! They’ll happily perfume the air for literally months in your garden…don’t underestimate the valuable addition they’ll make to your garden.
Use a pitch fork…less chance of slicing the tubers, as opposed to using a shovel. Loosen the ground around the plant gently with the fork until you can feel some ‘give‘ in the plant and are able to lift it out of the ground in one go.
Go around the entire plant gently lifting with the fork…
Grab the heavy stalks from the base and tug…there will be give…they will release from the soil in one glorious clump – trust me!
Shake off as much of the soil as you can…get in there with your fingers and get as MUCH soil off as you can. Watch for earth worms…I found several wrapped around the roots, and believe me these are precious little creatures…treat them gently and return them to the soil when you find them.
What you should be left with is tubers that look like this…plump and MUCH BIGGER than when you remember planting them. The beauty of Dahlias…they provide larger impressive tubers year after year.
If you see any tubers that look shrivelled or ‘unhealthy’…discard those to the compost, if there is any sign of rot you certainly don’t want that spreading to the rest of the good tubers over the winter.
Yes – they look like potatoes…TUBERS!! Don’t eat them 😀
You have to cut off the stalks from the tubers about an inch from the base…
Chop up the branches and stalks and add to your compost pile…smaller pieces decompose faster!
Put the tubers in a dry sunny location…before you remove the remaining soil!
Our sunniest, and most dry location in the house is by the south-facing window in our living room. I’ll leave them here for a good two or three days before I dust off the remaining dry soil.
Once they have dried a bit in the sun…then shake them out again. I used a paint brush to gently brush off any remaining soil. Cali helped – she’s my gardening side-kick…a horticultural hound 🐶
Label them…I used white twist ties you get from the bulk section of your grocery store because there is room to write names down on them.
Put them in a cardboard box and cover with peat moss…
Store them in a cool and dry location for the winter. (In my case – it’s the basement)
SEED DAHLIAS…different from Dahlias grown from tubers, but you can overwinter these as well!
Dahlias are most commonly grown from tubers, but if some of you have started them from seed, or purchased seed Dahlias from your garden centre – no worries – you can overwinter these too!
- Before frost threatens – dig up and re-pot your seed Dahlia plants in good organic potting soil.
- They won’t have a lot of tuber development – but that will come over a few years!
- Allow them to go dormant indoors and next spring, harden them off before planting in your garden for another season outdoors.
Next spring…rinse and repeat…plant and/or share with friends…you will be rewarded with unmatchable beauty…year after year. Dahlias come in an endless variety of colour and shapes…so…ENJOY!!
Garden lovers welcome💚
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