If you want to replant your Dahlia’s Tubers for next season’s harvest, you MUST beat the blustery frost.
Dahlia Tubers are susceptible to colder temperatures, so autumn frosts are their greatest threat.
Exposure to such extreme temperatures will damage their tuber, making them rot or mushy.
So, I will teach you how to store dahlia tubers over winter in a way they won’t bruise, rot, decay, or get nibbled on by pests and diseases.
Moreover, it doesn’t require a professional skill level and only takes 2 to 3 hours with an estimated cost of $30.
If you are ready, let’s jump into it together.
Equipment And Tools You Will Need
Below are the following tools you will need for the job.
I’m sure you have this equipment collecting dust in your garden house. If you don’t, you can ask a friend to lend you his or rent one.
- Garden fork and spade
- Gardening gloves
- Hand pruners
- Long-sleeve shirt and pants
- Dust mask
- Spray bottle
- Sulfur dust
- Peat moss
- Cardboard box
Before diving into the nitty gritty, how do you know your Dahlia Tubers are ready for dug-ups?
When To Dig Up Dahlia Tubers
Most gardeners will say Mother Nature will give you a bell when the time has ripened.
So what are the signs?
Remember, Dahila foliage can’t stand the freezing temperatures. That is where it all starts.
The first frost will lay its icy hands on the flowers, stalks, and foliage, blackening and turning them to mush.
That doesn’t mean the tubers underneath the surface are dead. YEAH! They are pretty much alive deep underground, waiting for you to dig them out.
However, you should pace yourself.
After the first frost, you can wait up to a week before digging them up. REMEMBER TO wait until the tempestuous frost hits the ground.
How To Store Dahlia Tubers Over Winter (Step-by-Step)
So, how do you winterize your Dahlia tubers?
It is pretty simple!
You ONLY have to do five things:
1. Dig the tubers out and wash them off.
2. Cut off or trim any rotten parts and disinfect with antifungal powder.
3. Hang each piece upside down so they dry but out of direct sunlight.
4. Put them in a box and lightly moistened with peat moss
5. Cover the tubers with peat moss and store them in a cool place
Below, I will take you by hand through each of these steps.
Step 1: Harvest Time
You need to be proactive.
As soon as the first frost hits the ground and the dahlia foliage darkens, it has ripened for harvest.
Cut down the dahlia stalks about a few inches. Then, give it about ten intervals before digging out the tubers.
So, how do you harvest it?
Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the remaining stalk. Do it gently on all four sides about a foot away so the tool won’t contact the tubers.
Pry up the soil, freeing the tubers to clump carefully.
Step 3: Groom The Tuber
First is to do a proper inspection if there are any rotten or damaged culprits.
If they are, DO NOT save them.
Clean the soil off the ones in good condition and trim the roots.
You won’t be storing the mother tuber, so get rid of it.
Step 5: Dry Them OUT!
Use a twine to hang the tubers upside down for two weeks and out of direct sunlight.
I love it during mine in a cool, dry place like the basement, garage, or shed.
Once they are cured, remove the extra stalk using a pruner.
Step 6: Moisten The Tubers With Sulfur
This step helps prevent rot and fungus buildup.
But you MUST wear protective gear to shield yourself from the sulfur dust –wearing a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, dust mask, and gloves.
Spritz the substance onto the tuber.
Step 7: Prepare The Storage Box And Store
This is one of the most crucial stages.
First, line up pieces of newspaper at the bottom of the cardboard. Pour in about two inches of peat moss.
Slightly moisten the peat moss with a spray bottle. DO NOT saturate the peat moss, as it promotes rot.
If you can’t get peat moss, vermiculite or dry sawdust are other alternatives.
I have also crossed some gardeners wrapping each tuber in a newspaper or plastic wrap instead.
And all of them work just fine.
But after prepping the storage box, it is time to line up the tubers and store them in a cool, dry place.
However, I prefer using the peat moss.
And if you are also using peat, most gently lay each tuber flat inside the storage. Pour an additional inch of peat moss to cover the tubers.
Ensure the tubers or clumps are not in contact with one another.
To be sure, use dry sheets of newspaper to separate them.
And last, store the box in any dark, cool, dry area. It could be your root cellar, basement, or garage.
9. Check The Tubers Periodically
After the tubers are indeed stored, check on them from time to time.
And whenever you notice they are dry, apply the spray bottle to the peat moss.
But if the tubers are mushy, you MUST discard the rotten culprit before it spreads to the rest.
You can experiment with these storage methods until you find what works best.
And if you grow different varieties, you should label the dahlias before the foliage is blackened by frost.
This helps you know the cultivars you are working with during spring sow time.
Most farmers use separate storage boxes for each cultivar; you can also help simplify the work.