Dried out Dahlia tubers – How to preserve and Factors That Affect Storage

Dahlia is one of the most attractive blooms in any garden. With their eye-catching beauty, they take the aesthetic of outdoor spaces to another level. The gorgeous dahlia flowers bloom making your garden an attractive and cozy site for your family and friend to rest and enjoy the long weekends. During their blooming season, your garden is a spectacular spot – the flowers, the birds chipping, butterflies, and all the imaginable beauty a yard can offer!

Nevertheless, dahlia flowers have their blooming season which like everything else comes to an end. And soon, you need to lift the dahlia tubers from the ground for overwintering. This is because they cannot survive the freezing temperatures that come with winter. In other words, the freezing temperature causes them to split and start molding in the damp soil. As such, you have to dig up the tubers for winterization.

Sounds a bit complicated? Don’t worry, we are here to guide you all the way – when winterized properly, dahlia tubers can be replanted each spring and bloom in your garden for years. In this guide, you will get all the information on how to store dahlia tubers and the factors that affect storage. Read on and happy gardening!

Step-By-Step Guide to storing Dried Dahlia Tubers

 Everyone loves dahlias and can easily grow them. It doesn’t matter where you live, even if you reside in a frozen tundra like Minnesota, all you need is a few tips to make sure your dahlias survive the winter. Luckily, below is a guide to walk you through saving dahlia tubers over winter.

Step 1: Determine the Right Time to Harvest Dahlia

right time to harvest dahlia

So, now that we have decided to cut on some costs by ensuring our summer garden blossoms survive the winter, when do we dig up the tubers? A little light frost is the deal time. For instance, it’s ideal to harvest dahlia tubers two weeks after your first frost. During this time, dahlias have gone into dormancy yet are still unharmed by the freezing temperatures. During late fall, you will observe that your dahlia plants turn yellow and die back, this is a clear sign that the time for winterizing is near.

Nevertheless, ensure that you don’t dig them too early. As a rule of thumb, the healthier the plant and the stronger the tubers will be to survive during winterizing.

Step 2: Trim Back the Dahlia Stalks about A Few Inches above the Ground

Dahlia in farmers hand

Next, cut the dahlia stems about five to six inches above the ground. This helps provide a “handle” to hold when lifting and washing the tubers. Remember that dahlia stems are hollow and thus much susceptible to rot. As a result, you shouldn’t trim the stems before you are ready to dig your dahlias. However, if you want eyes to come out of your dahlias so that they will be easier to divide, ensure you cover the stalks with some foil. This prevents water from entering the hollow stem causing it to rot.

Step 3: Dig Your Dahlias

mature dahlia in farmers hand

The next step is to dig your dahlias. In this step, you will a garden fork to carefully dig around the stalk. Ensure that you dig at least one foot around – this will prevent you from accidentally hurting the tubers. Position the garden fork under the clump and lift carefully – you don’t want the fragile dahlia’s neck to break off.

Step 4: Carefully Shake Off Any Excess Dirt and Wash the Tubers

Dirt and Wash the Tubers

In this step, you want to be as careful as possible. Remember that the neck of the tuber is susceptible to breakage and as such protecting it is paramount. That said, a tub or a hose is ideal for this task. Note that all dirt needs to be washed off since soil contains micro-organisms that are not ideal for storing the tubers. Besides, clean tubers are easy to divide making the whole process a lot easier.

Step 5: Divide Dahlias

Divide Dahlias

After rinsing the dahlia tubers, you can choose to divide the tubers. On the other hand, you have an option of dividing your dahlias in spring or not dividing them at all. If your tubers have several eyes, it is ideal to divide them now. Besides, dividing them now will give you more tubers than you will get if you divide them in spring. This way, you get more tubers to share with your flower-loving friends.

Step 6: Leave the Tubers to Dry

Before storing the tubers, you have to let them dry out completely, this could take days or even weeks. The purpose of drying them is because we want to get rid of any moisture. Remember that the tubers will be in storage over the winter season and moisture can potentially cause rotting.

Step 7: Store the Tubers

Finally, it is now time to store your tubers. Above all, ensure that you regularly check on your dahlias throughout the winter. It sure is a labor of love but if you love plants and the nice-looking dahlias in specific, you have to love the process.

Preserving Dried Out Dahlia Tubers

Dried Out Dahlia Tubers

You’ll need to store your dried tubers in a cool, dry, and dark place. In this case, an unheated basement or a closet would be ideal. Most importantly, ensure that the tubers are kept away from moisture and mold build-up, this will help keep them safe throughout the winter season. In addition, the ideal temperatures for winterizing your summer garden friends are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To store the tubers, you can place them in crates, plastic bins, cardboard containers, wood, or Styrofoam.

On the other hand, some gardeners prefer to store their dried tubers in a box containing peat moss. If you are willing to go with this idea, you must ensure the box is air-tight to prevent moisture loss and keep your tubers healthy throughout the winter. Besides, ensure that the peat moss is thoroughly dry – the last thing we want is a damp storage environment to damage our tubers.

You can use at least a one-inch layer of peat moss for this storage method. Next, dip the tubers in powdered sulfur or vermiculate before laying them on the peat moss. This coats the tubers with an antifungal layer to prevent rotting. When packing your tubers on the peat moss, space them at least one inch from one tuber to another. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that a rotting tuber does not infect others. Keep adding peat moss about an inch to completely cover one layer of the tuber, move to the next layer and repeat the same process until you have completely covered them all.

Factors that affect Dried out Dahlia storage

      I.            Temperature

One of the factors that mostly affect the storage of dahlia tubers is temperature. You want to make sure that the temperature is ideal for the survival of your tubers. On one hand, very low temperatures could lead to freezing and certainly damage the capability of the tubers to sprout again. On the other hand, very high temperatures in the storage medium can cause drying out of tubers. On the bright side, however, tubers are living things even in their dormant stages and you will be surprised at their resilience and desire to grow.

   II.            Damaged Neck

The neck of a dahlia tuber is very important; it acts as a passage to allow energy to flow from the body of the tuber to the eye allowing the plant to grow. A small scratch or cut on the neck is not a cause for alarm however a tuber with a dried-out neck is unlikely to grow.

III.            Rot

If you store your tubers in a medium that is too damp, there are more likely to rot. Nevertheless, it depends on the variety of tubers you have. It is no doubt that some tubers are more prone to rot than others.

IV.            Mold

If you notice some superficial molds on the tubers, it is advisable to take action immediately. In most cases, you can brush or wipe the mold off. On the other hand, you can spray the tubers with vinegar or briefly deep them in a 105 bleach solution. After this, allow them to dry off before storing them again.


Dahlia flowers are a perfect addition to any garden. However, you need to winterize their tubers since they cannot survive freezing temperatures. The best part is that storing dried-out dahlia tubers doesn’t have to be hard. With just a few guidelines, you are good to go. Hopefully, the article has shed some light on how to ensure that your dahlia tubers survive the winter and in turn serve you for years.

Remember that storing your dahlia tubers over winter is not only convenient but it’s a huge money saver too – you don’t want to spend dollars for your summer garden by purchasing dahlia tubers every season. Besides, the tropical feel that the blossoms give your garden is worth the work involved in winterizing their tubers.

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