Monday, August 17, 2009

Ask Heirloom Gardener: How to Store Dahlia Tubers for Winter

Question from the mailbag (heirloomgardener[at]aol[dot]com): What winter storage "method" do you use for dahlias? I've experimented with several different ways and am still searing for the perfect solution.
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Answer from Heirloom Gardener: I've experimented with several different ways too. One year, I put the tubers in individual brown paper bags, wrote the names of the tubers on each bag, and then stored all of the bags in a large container of peat moss. By the spring, the brown paper bags had deteriorated and I had no idea which dahlias were which!
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Here's what I did last fall which worked pretty well. After the first hard frost, I dug them up (a garden fork works better than a shovel), cleaned them off and dried them indoors on baking sheets in the sun for about two days. You want them to dry out, but you don't want them to shrivel up. Next, I wrote the name of the dahlia on the actual tuber with a Sharpie marker. Then, I stored them in individual plastic containers with peat moss. I wrote the name of the dahlia on the outside of each container too. From there, they were stored in the unfinished part of the basement, which kept them cool, dry and dark until the spring.

8 comments:

Queenmothermamaw said...

Great resource.
QMM

Janet said...

Good info. After the first hard frost eh? ok.

Ciss B said...

Hmmm. I will have to try that way too.

I personally have used the old Victory Garden way (from years back with Roger Swain)

- dig, 'em; soak 'em in a bucket of water for 5 - 10 minutes to get off dirt and hydrate; pack'em in many sheets of wadded newspaper and store in small cardboard boxes that you've labeled in a cool dark basement.

Sarah O. said...

I pack mine all together in a big bucket filled with sawdust, and I attach name tags to the old stalks with twist ties and cut-up pieces of milk cartons - but writing directly on them certainly sounds easier!

I find storing them in our garage is perfect, but since they get in the way there, I have started using the crawl space instead - which works perfectly, but I have to check them a few times during the winter to make sure they aren't getting moldy.

the inadvertent farmer said...

We're lucky, we don't have to dig them up around here...maybe we should but haven't had any problems so far! Great post, Kim

Teresa said...

I read that same method elsewhere. It sounds great and since I know you have done it before and it worked, I will try that. THanks for the great info.

Sue said...

Last year, I dug my Vancouver dahlias, and put them in a sack in the carport waiting for me to find out how to store them, when my husband threw them away.

This year I have 3 of the same kind of plant, and plan to leave one clump in the ground to see if it survives, and try your idea for the others.

Dahlia Grower said...

Informative! There are a lot of ways in storing dahlia tubers, but there's always that better technique. I could use some of your handy technique in storing dahlias.

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