How To Dig Up Your Beautiful Dahlias
Ok, ok, I have to admit, Dahlias are my favorite flowers in the garden, and I love to dig them up in early to mid-winter. Digging up your dahlias can create a bunch of questions and here are some answers based on our trials and tribulations over the years here at Celtic Farm.
Why do you dig up Dahlia tubers?
Well, the short answer depends on where you live and your planting zone (See our planting zone map). If you are lucky, you live in a temperate zone where there are no hard freezes. Freezing temperatures will kill your dahlia tubers. In warmer areas, you can leave your tubers in the ground and treat your dahlias as perennials. Over time you will need to perform some maintenance on the massive basketball size tuber that will grow 🙂 Also, if you have poor drainage during the winter, your tubers will rot over time.
The second reason, and the exciting one for me, is that it gives you the chance to be fruitful, divide and multiply! Propagating dahlia tubers is simple, and helps you grow your stock overtime with little effort and no expense. You can watch our video on Propagating Dahlia Tubers.
When do you dig up dahlia tubers?
Essentially, the goal here is to avoid Mr.Frost. You can go all scientific and look at the weather predictions, but the plants give you a sign: they typically turn brown and start to die back when they are ready. Usually it is between October and December.
What do you need for the job?
Depending on your preference and the size of the tuber, you may need different tools:
- Garden Fork or Hand Fork
- Propagation Knife
- Hose with Jet Nozzle
- Sulfur Powder
- Storage Crate or Box
This is a garden tool set we recommend, but gardeners are like dahlias: alike but not the same :).
How do I dig up my dahlias?
To dig up your dahlias, first off, trim use your pruners to snip off any growth above ground. leave about 2 or so inches on the stem (it will die back and dry out). Using your garden fork, start a circle about 6-8 inches from the stem and start to loosen the soil, being careful not to puncture any large tuber lengths. Once you get a feel for the extension outward of the tuber, use the fork to get under the tuber and use the forks handle to “lever up” the whole tuber system. You can then use your hands to reach underneath and gently pull out your treasure. Snip off the roots, and any rotted tuber growth. Rinse off the dirt and clean up the tuber. Place it on a drying rack or in a crate to let it dry for 2 or so weeks before storing for the winter. We use a little sulfur powder to prevent rotting, and then pack away in peat moss for their winter sleep.
See all our dahlia posts here: Growing Dahlias.