Dahlias forum: Storing Dahlia tuber indoors?

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Aug 23, 2014 8:13 PM CST
I live in zone 7a and want to save my special dahlia. Do I keep it outside in a pot or bring the tuber inside keep in basement? How should I store it?
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Aug 23, 2014 8:31 PM CST
After digging, washing, turning upside down for a few days, pack it with almost damp sawdust, or peat moss, and store it in an open plastic bag over winter at below 50 degrees but never freezing. Make sure you label the bag. Add a spritz of water once a month IF needed. If the medium is damp you won't need the spritz. If it's too damp the tuber can rot easily.
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

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frankrichards16
Aug 24, 2014 4:59 AM CST
Keith, if it is currently growing in a pot, I think you can just bring it inside and store in a cool place over the Winter.

If you are wanting to dig, divide and store over Winter, I use the Syran wrap method...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/50697352@N00/sets/721576078943...


Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Aug 24, 2014 9:19 AM CST
frankrichards16 said:Keith, if it is currently growing in a pot, I think you can just bring it inside and store in a cool place over the Winter.

If you are wanting to dig, divide and store over Winter, I use the Syran wrap method...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/50697352@N00/sets/721576078943...




Yes it is growing in a pot. Do I remove it from the pot if it has moist soil and do I cut off stems and leaves or leave them on?

Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

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frankrichards16
Aug 24, 2014 10:34 AM CST

I would cut off the stems and leave it in the pot.

At the end of the season, I would ease up on watering so it's not too wet when you bring it in.

of course, no more watering once you put it in storage.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Aug 24, 2014 11:06 AM CST
frankrichards16 said:Keith, if it is currently growing in a pot, I think you can just bring it inside and store in a cool place over the Winter.

If you are wanting to dig, divide and store over Winter, I use the Syran wrap method...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/50697352@N00/sets/721576078943...




I used the saran wrap method last fall for the first time. It worked great!
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Aug 24, 2014 2:15 PM CST
I have been using the saran method for several years now. It takes some time when you have lots of tubers, but the success rate for me has been great. I think last year I lost maybe 4 tubers to rot out of about 250.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Aug 26, 2014 9:20 AM CST
The last time I tried it I think I wrapped when the tubers were too moist. Lost a lot to rot. I guess having them very dry is the key before saran wrapping.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Aug 26, 2014 10:02 AM CST
One year I got lazy, and instead of individually labeling the tubers, I put multiples in baggies, after wrapping them individually. I did have a lot of those rot. So…..maybe what ever container you stored them in is to tight of a seal? I layer mine up with raffia type packing material, and store them in a big plastic bin that doesn't have a sealed lid, then store them on the floor of my concrete slab studio that I usually keep about 55 in the winter, so the floor is closer to 45 degrees.
Name: Wes
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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Wes
Aug 26, 2014 10:11 AM CST
Thanks for the photo link Frank!
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Aug 26, 2014 10:21 AM CST
I don't put on a lid and this year will store them in the crawl space where it is always dark and cool. Just need to assure they are dry without being too dry.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

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frankrichards16
Aug 26, 2014 6:17 PM CST

i Wash and cut my tubers in the greenhouse (outside). I usually dig about 10-15 plants per day (mornings).

then I bring the tubers inside to dry (~ Noon). If the sun is not out I leave them to dry in the greenhouse.

After 4-5 hours, they are usually ready to wrap up (after dinner). Sometimes to insure they are dry, I wait until the next morning.

I mark all tubers with an industrial marker prior to wrapping. If the marker does not easily print on the tuber, it is usually because the tuber is not dry.

I used to wrap 3-4 tubers per plastic wrap. Now I wrap each tuber separately. For each dahlia plant I only save 2 or 3 tubers. If I save more than that, I have a lot more tubers to throw out in the Spring. I pick out the best looking tuber and wrap the plant label with it. Makes it much easier in the Spring. I have a tuber & plant label in one small package.

I pack all plastic wrapped tubers in open top cardboard boxes and store in the basement (~50 degrees most of the winter). I usually have a box for each color: red, yellow, pink and so on. This makes it easier to plan your garden next year.

In the Spring, I do not unwrap any tubers until I actually plant them. Without unwrapping, I can see the plant ID and buds. No buds, no plant.

When I dig the hole, I unwrap the tuber.


Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Aug 26, 2014 7:37 PM CST
so you do wash the dirt off. How vigorously? I use the jet stream on my hose nozzle to get the dirt out from between the tubers wrapped tightly around each other. Makes the tubers pretty wet. I let them dry for at least two days because of that. Maybe I am too assiduous in my washing??
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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frankrichards16
Aug 26, 2014 8:31 PM CST
Oberon46 said:so you do wash the dirt off. How vigorously? I use the jet stream on my hose nozzle to get the dirt out from between the tubers wrapped tightly around each other. Makes the tubers pretty wet. I let them dry for at least two days because of that. Maybe I am too assiduous in my washing??


I wash and divide so I end up with single tubers, then I wash again.

there is no dirt left.

If you store entire clumps and divide in the Spring, it is more difficult to dry.
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Aug 26, 2014 8:32 PM CST
I actually don't wash my tubers. I have very sandy soil. I dig the tubers, Knock as much dirt of as I can, let them dry inside for usually 48 hours, sometimes more. Then I just brush the dirt off with a stiff brush, divide them, label them - do the shake and bake sulfur, and wrap them individually.

Frank - I am surprised that you don't pre start your tubers, but maybe you grow to many to want to deal with that. I don't have a green house, but I get them started inside under lights, usually 4-6 weeks before I can plant them. (which is usually June 1st). The plants that are 12-18" tall when I plant them out are almost always blooming a week or three ahead of the others. With my short season - I feel its worth it.
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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frankrichards16
Aug 26, 2014 8:51 PM CST
Here are some photos of how I store tubers.

I dig, wash and cut.

Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/0c0ecd Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/546b21 Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/3ebd6b

Then I dry, mark and wrap.

Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/6f4b8f Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/e561e3 Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/62e23e

Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
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Oberon46
Aug 26, 2014 9:08 PM CST
I never get those cute little rotund tubers with long obvious necks. My soil is very organic and really sticks to the tubers. I agree that keeping clumps would be risky with so much potential for moist conditions and rot.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan

Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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frankrichards16
Aug 26, 2014 9:23 PM CST
mandolls said:I actually don't wash my tubers. I have very sandy soil. I dig the tubers, Knock as much dirt of as I can, let them dry inside for usually 48 hours, sometimes more. Then I just brush the dirt off with a stiff brush, divide them, label them - do the shake and bake sulfur, and wrap them individually.

Frank - I am surprised that you don't pre start your tubers, but maybe you grow to many to want to deal with that. I don't have a green house, but I get them started inside under lights, usually 4-6 weeks before I can plant them. (which is usually June 1st). The plants that are 12-18" tall when I plant them out are almost always blooming a week or three ahead of the others. With my short season - I feel its worth it.


I started tubers indoors in 2010 (March) and moved to the greenhouse in April. From the first photo it looks like I did 165 or so. It was a successful year, but it was a little too much work. One year I planted over 300 varieties. This year I am down to ~50. Also, with 300 different varieties, I was storing in excess of 1000 tubers over the Winter.


Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/2d279a Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/f09f22 Thumb of 2014-08-27/frankrichards16/135a97

Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Aug 27, 2014 4:35 AM CST
Thats a nice looking green house Frank. I have a screened in back porch that I have dreamed of turning into a green house, but I doubt if it will ever happen.

While my dahlia collection gets a little bigger every year, I am still a relative newbie. I stored about 250 tubers last year, and that was a lot of work. This year I went from 65 plants - 32 cultivars - to 100 plants in the ground - 63 cultivars. I may be a little pickier about what tubers I keep this fall.

Early starting the tubers is definitely a chunk of work, but I also grow lots of annuals and vegetables from seed under lights (close to 2000 seedlings last year) so I am already committed to lots of time tending the babies in March, April & May.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
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Oberon46
Aug 27, 2014 8:32 AM CST
I can barely handle 100 tubers in storage with about 90 able to put in flats to test for sprouts in the spring. I ended up with 72 to plant out with 42 different cultivars. That is my limit on space indoors and out. Can't imagine keeping 200 straight.

You have a very orderly set up Frank. Somehow not surprised. I strive to be more orderly each year. I cut up old venetian blinds this year to use for markers and they worked well. Held the names even in sun. Will save them to put with the tubers for winter storage. Touch them up a bit if needed. I also save poppy seeds and use the same markers (venetian blinds) with a hole punched in one end to attach to the stems so I know what each seed pod is. Only have 6 or 7 different colors and all are just regular poppies not orientals. But they are all lavender to almost black and look nice with other flowers. But they get so tall I have to be careful where I put the seeds.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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