Digging, Dividing & Storing Dahlia Tubers

Posted by @frankrichards16 on
In the colder climate zones, dahlias have to be dug up in the fall and stored for the winter. I have been digging and storing tubers for many years. I have tried many different methods. Here is what works best for me.


1. After the first hard frost (usually mid to late October in Michigan, zone 5), I cut off the tops of the dahlia plants and wait for 1-2 weeks. This allows the tubers to start forming new buds and makes it easier to divide them. A tuber with no bud will not grow.

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2. Dig up the tubers and rinse them off. If you damage the neck of the any of the tubers, they probably cannot be saved. If you happen to cut a tuber in half, it will normally store just fine.

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3. Wash and cut (I divide in the fall to minimize storage space). If the new buds are not clearly visible, you will have to make a best guess. The goal is to have at least one bud per individual tuber. The first photo below clearly shows the bud.

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4. Allow the tubers to dry for 4-6 hours or maybe even overnight. I usually do this inside (think shade).

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5. Mark each tuber with a permanent marker. If you have trouble doing this, the tubers are probably not dry enough. I abbreviate the Dahlia name.

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6. Wrap each tuber in plastic wrap (Saran Wrap). One tuber per sheet makes it easier to deal with them in the spring. However, you can wrap 3 or 4 together, making sure each tuber is separated with plastic wrap.

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7. Pack the wrapped tubers in bags or boxes and store in a cool dark place (basement cellar).

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8. Settle in for winter. Sometimes I check the tubers, but most of the time I just wait until spring planting. If you have any tubers that have spoiled, you can deal with them at that time.

I usually do 12-16 tubers per day. I can dig, wash, and cut this number and be done by noon. The tubers are dry by around 6:00 PM, so I complete steps 5-7. I repeat steps 1-7 for several days until I reach step 8. This is the most rewarding step!

Also worth mentioning, I have a good pair of waterproof gloves and a great garden HELPER!

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Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
what does a bud look like by davidsevit Dec 12, 2015 10:16 AM 1
Dahalias by birdsandbl9 Oct 25, 2015 5:01 PM 0
Method of storing Dahlia tubers in Tropical zone by sunandabos Oct 24, 2015 10:13 PM 0
Do you have had fungus problems with your stored tubers? by hampartsum Oct 23, 2015 3:47 AM 11
Perfect timing by gardengus Oct 18, 2015 8:17 PM 7
Thanks for Method of storing Dahlia tubers. by CarolineScott Oct 18, 2015 9:41 AM 0
Great photos and explanations by pirl Oct 18, 2015 9:10 AM 0
A vote for this method by jvdubb Oct 18, 2015 6:07 AM 1

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