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Kerry Michaels

Winter Survival for Container Garden Dahlias

By October 31, 2008

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container gardening picture of dahlias and hydrangea
Dahlias and Hydrangeas
Photo Kerry Michaels

I love dahlias - I even love saying the word...dahlia. It is a flower that is cheerful and somehow makes me feel optimistic, which is strange because have never successfully over wintered them.

Dahlias are fabulous container garden plants but if you live in cold climate, anything less than a zone 8, they can be a tricky to over-winter. They dont like to be too hot or too cold, to wet or too dry (picky, picky, picky). I have had absolutely no luck in saving my dahlias because all my spaces are too warm or freeze solid neither of which please dahlias.

There is tons of advice out there on how to store dahlias for the winter, much of it conflicting. What does seem to be agreed on is that after a few frosts, you should dig up your dahlias, cut off the stems and then clean up and store the tubers you will be left with. It is also widely agreed that they like to spend their winters in a dry, but not too dry, area that is between 40-50F, so an unheated basement or garage can work - if it doesn't freeze.

Suggestions on storing dahlia tubers range from packing them in peat moss to building a temperature-controlled box to wrapping them in plastic wrap.

For more info on dahlias The American Dahlia Society is a great web site to check out.


November 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm
(1) Connie says:

Every year we dug up about 300 dahlias (I shudder to remember the fall work!). We waited until the first frost killed off most of the foliage. We dug them up, brushed them off, and let them dry in the sun on the driveway. We packed them in boxes with peat moss and stored them in a crawl space at a neighbours. It worked pretty well. We didn’t have much rotting and by when we were ready to plant, the eyes had started to pop, and you could divide them pretty easily.

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