Dahlias are beautiful in a vase. Plus, the more you cut them the more they will bloom. To gather flowers for a bouquet, cut the stems in the morning before the heat of the day and put them into a bucket with cool water. Remove bottom leaves from the stems and place the dahlias in a vase. Put the vase in a cool spot and check the water daily. The bouquet should last about a week.
Digging and Storing Dahlias for Winter
Unless you live in a warmer region, you have to dig up dahlias in late fall before there is a hard frost in your area. Native to Mexico, Dahlias won’t survive freezing temperatures. Digging and storing dahlias is extremely easy and simple, and will save you the money that would otherwise go into buying new ones each year.
If you live in an area where your ground doesn’t freeze, you don’t need to dig up your tubers. The general rule is: If you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 8 or warmer, you can leave dahlias in the ground. In Zone 6 or colder, dig them up. In Zone 7, you may be able to get away with just covering the plants with a thick layer of leaf or straw mulch, but if a freeze hits, you may lose them.
Find your USDA Hardiness Zone here.
When to Dig Up Tubers
Dig up dahlias before the first hard freeze. A light freeze (32°F / 0°C) will kill the foliage, but a hard freeze (28°F / -4°C) will kill the tubers, too. See your fall frost dates.
A good indication of when to dig your tubers up is when the plant starts to turn brown and die back.
How to Dig Up Tubers
Digging up tubers is easy:
- After fall frost has killed back the foliage, cut the stems down to 2 to 4 inches.
- Carefully dig around tubers with a pitchfork (or shovel) without damaging them.
- Lift and gently shake the soil off the tubers.
That’s it! Cut rotten tubers off the clump and leave the clumps outside in the sun upside down to dry naturally.
How to Store Dahlia Tubers
- Pack in a loose, fluffy material (vermiculite, dry sand, Styrofoam peanuts).
- Store in a well-ventilated, frost-free place at around 45°F (7°C).
Re-planting Tubers in Spring
- In the spring, remove the tubers from their storage containers, separate healthy tubers from the parent clump, and plant in the garden. Each tuber must have at least one “eye” or a piece of the crown attached or it will not develop into a blooming plant. The eyes are located at the base of the stem and look like little pink bumps.
See our gardener’s article on how to unpack and divide your stored dahlia tubers!
If this all seems like too much bother or you do not have the right storage place, skip digging and storing, and just start over by buying new tubers in the spring.