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Store Dahlias in the Winter, according to 1861 Garden Magazine

My favorite flower has to be the dahlia.

For many years I have grown about fifty dahlia tubers each summer.  I plant them in the spring and tie them as needed to the support pole. The blooms appear from the end of July until Thanksgiving.

But it is the digging up and storing for the winter that takes the most time.

Some gardeners I know  do not want to bother with all the work involved in growing dahlias.

Dahlias in the Filoli Gardens, south of San Francisco

Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan in the November 1861 issue of his magazine Gardener’s Monthly gave instructions on what to do with the dahlias after the first frost. He wrote: “As soon as the first white frost has blackened dahlia leaves, the stems should be cut back to a few inches off the ground, the label securely fastened, and the root placed away in a cool place secure from frost til next March, when it should be ‘sprouted’, divided and again set out.”

For some reason I do not mind the task of digging up, cleaning, labeling, and storing the tubers for the winter.

It feels like a step in the wrapping up the garden for the winter.

Do you store dahlia tubers?  What method do you use?

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Tom, I love dahlias. Many years ago I had several varieties that came from prize dahlia stock of a friend who exhibited every year at the Topsfield Fair. I would dig them up and store them in a plastic nursery pot, all piled atop one another with straw in between. Keeping them in the basement I would periodically sprinkle them with water if they appeared to be drying out. Sadly I lost all of them while on a business trip when a deep freeze hit unexpectedly. I now live in SC where we don’t have to dig them up, but I don’t have any. I think I need to find a good source locally and start my collection again. Thanks for the inspriation!

    1. Gale, good to hear from you. Glad you will try dahlias again, especially since they are your favorite flowers. There must be nurseries in your area that specialize in them. good luck.

  2. I store nothing as I feel I will somehow mess it all up and be very disappointed next season. In some respects I am a Charlie Brown gardener.

    1. Hi Mario, why not start with storing just a couple of dahlia tubers over the winter? The nice thing about them is that when you plant them again in the spring, if you do not divide them, each dahlia will be bushier and you have more flowers. At least that is what has happened to me in my garden.

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