Dahlias forum: Storing your dahlias. How do you do it?

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Name: Connie
Winlock, WA (Zone 8a)
Need has nothing to do with it.
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CLC70
Oct 31, 2016 4:30 PM CST
I'm packing mine in layers of cedar shavings in cardboard boxes. I store them in my basement. From everything I've ever read, Swan island just lines their boxes with newspaper and puts the tubers in there with another layer of newspaper on top. Would like to know how everyone here does it.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Oct 31, 2016 4:59 PM CST
Grow mine in containers, after the first hard frost, cut off the stalks and put them in a cool basement giving them occasional water.
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Oct 31, 2016 8:40 PM CST
Yes, but Swan Island has temp/humidity controlled buildings (I believe). I have done about everything: wrapped in saran after washing, cutting, dosing with sulpher - in zip locks with a mix of soil and peat- in plastic grocer bags loosly tied after being cut - pitched into the bags without doing much more than knocking off excess dirt - the last of which is my current method.
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Nov 1, 2016 5:20 AM CST
I dust them with cinnamon and wrap each tuber in saran and store them in boxes, on the concrete floor of my studio (about 40 degrees).

Mary is right about SI have humidity controlled spaces for storage.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Nov 1, 2016 8:20 AM CST
Yup, so what works for them in their environment might not work for each of us in our environments - humidity makes a big difference in storage, as well as temp. The individual type of wrapping-packaging- materials all effect your result in addition to temp. I store in a heated crawl space. It rarely gets below 50F and I would consider it slightly on the humid side due to the increase use of heat during winter. The copper pipes for the baseboard are below floor level in places. We have had flooding in the crawl space in times past and I feel there is still a deep moisture there that raises humidity when the air becomes heated. And yet, my tubers can become both dessicated as well as rot. Just then depends on the final pieces, since I leave soil on mine, how damp was it in places between tubers where I couldn't get it out. Could work for me by keeping the tuber plump or might work against me in rotting the tuber.

How is that for muddying the water. Crying
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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pirl
Nov 1, 2016 8:27 AM CST
Mine get a good shaking and entire clumps are stored, one to a bag, and stay on the steps to the attic for the winter. I divided a few last year but I have trouble finding the eyes so it's not my normal routine. Now they're still in bloom but frost can hit and then will come digging time.
Name: Connie
Winlock, WA (Zone 8a)
Need has nothing to do with it.
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CLC70
Nov 1, 2016 9:02 AM CST
Oh gosh Mary that is mudding the water. LOL. But I understand what you are saying. Not sure what my basement temps are. Have never checked. Somewhere in the 40s probably. No heat down there. And sometimes when there's been a lot of rain I'll get some water on the floor.Makes for a lot of humidity so I keep a dehumidifier running. I have been down in the storage rooms at Swan Island. They are big basements with dirt floors. I didn't notice but they probably have fans down there.There are buildings up top- probably where they cut and sort the dahlias. Last year my tubers were starting to wrinkle up by the time I got them cut up and packed away and they didn't store well. This year they are going into the sawdust (which is damp) while they are still plump. I will be watching them closely for any rot.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Nov 1, 2016 9:23 AM CST
Yes, I have had mine start to 'prune up' during the drying process in the fall especially after I have washed and divided them. And yet you are supposed to let them dry for a day or three before storing. I think perhaps the problem was digging too soon. They hadn't formed a tough skin and were green. Still, I managed to save quite a few. More than I needed or had time or energy to store much less plant in the spring. I won't be looking at the bags (I now store as Arlene does although I cannot achieve the nice 40F she has) until maybe Feb. Nothing I can do anyway except perhaps spritz any that look in danger of getting too dry. I have tried to save those starting to rot by cutting off the bad parts but my success rate has been less than great.
Name: Dan
NE Ohio (Zone 6a)
psudan
Nov 1, 2016 2:58 PM CST
I haven't consciously looked for eyes when dividing for years. If they're obvious, I'll take note. Otherwise, I cut off every healthy looking tuber along with a piece of the collar and throw them into a Zip-lock or wrap in saran after dusting with copper fungicide or sulphur. I know many suppliers suggest throwing away any not showing eyes when dividing. Why? So they can sell you more? LOL I've never understood the rush to throw them away now rather than waiting till spring to see if they'll eye up. I find very few eyes in the fall but I'm guessing 75%+ of mine will sprout in the spring. If I depended on seeing eyes in the fall, I would end up with a few dozen tubers rather than a few hundred.

My Hollyhill 6-in-1 have always been notorious for forming tight clumps with many egg-sized (or smaller) round tubers. Very hard to divide. I just start chopping without regard for eyes. One year I saved 27 tubers from three plants. The following spring all 27 sprouted. Unless you're pressed for space, save them all and throw the duds away later.

Saran worked great last year. So did the Zip-locks when I started sealing the bags and punching a few air holes. In the past, I left the tops open and the tubers shriveled during some winters when we had the very cold air with little humidity.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Nov 1, 2016 3:32 PM CST
You used to put a mixture of soil and other stuff in the zip locks and left them open. So now you just put them in the bags, seal and punch a few holes?? No soil or anything?
Name: Dan
NE Ohio (Zone 6a)
psudan
Nov 1, 2016 5:04 PM CST
For no particular reason, I stored those dusted with copper in bags with cedar shavings and those dusted with sulphur in coarse vermiculite. Just what I happened to have handy at the time. I'm pretty sure the ones in saran were dusted with copper.

Yes, I used to use a mix of potting soil/peat moss/perlite in open top bags for storage.

The year before last, I noticed the packaged dahlias in stores were sealed in bags with just a few tiny air holes. Most looked better than mine. I decided the tubers apparently didn't need to "breathe" like I had thought. I thought this might also help retain enough moisture to possibly reduce some of my shriveling problem. Seemed to work fine, although one year/time is a small sample size, especially with the varying winter temps/humidity we get from year to year.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Oberon46
Nov 2, 2016 7:54 AM CST
I only left the bags (plastic grocery bags) loosely tied one time on top to keep them from molding, didn't think about breathing. I thought only the leaves 'breathed' . I don't have zip bags big enough for the clumps so that will have to suffice for holding in moisture also.

Maybe I will do a check in a week or so and if they look a little dry, spritz, then tighten the tops. Those bags aren't as 'skookum' as zip locks so they might allow a little more in and out of air-humidity. Only 60 days and we are around the corner to spring. Bwahahahah Hurray!
Name: Connie
Winlock, WA (Zone 8a)
Need has nothing to do with it.
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CLC70
Nov 2, 2016 7:58 AM CST
Most of my plants produced a lot of tubers this year and the clumps aren't as balled up as they have been in the past. I think subsoiling the ground then adding a lot of sand helped them to spread their tubers out a little more although some varieties seem to just want to get their nickers in a knot. And my tubers have eyed up nicely. I was going to wait and divide in the spring but with the eyes showing so well and the large number of tubers produced I have decided against that.
Name: Connie
Winlock, WA (Zone 8a)
Need has nothing to do with it.
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CLC70
Nov 2, 2016 8:08 AM CST
60 days! My gosh I just got them out of the ground! Seriously I've got to find a faster less labor intensive way of lifting my dahlias. This 65 year old woman can't go on digging all those by hand. I've been looking at videos of potato harvesters from huge elaborate ones to home made ones. But they look like they might be too rough on the tubers. Using a shovel works fine for a couple dozen plants but when you've got over a hundred- it takes me days and days.
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
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Phenolic
Nov 2, 2016 4:52 PM CST
I wrap each cured tuber in a sheet of newspaper, so that none of the tubers are directly touching. After wrapping everything just goes into a cardboard box in an unheated attached garage. Some years I get just a little bit of shrivelling, while other years the tubers are so shrivelled I'm surprised that they can grow and flower that year. I never get any mouldy tubers...it's probably too dry for mould to grow!

I am curious about why you dig your dahlia tubers out of the ground, CLC70. Dahlias are hardy to zone 7, so theoretically you could probably leave yours in the ground.
Name: Connie
Winlock, WA (Zone 8a)
Need has nothing to do with it.
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CLC70
Nov 2, 2016 6:36 PM CST
My heavy clay soil is the problem. Doesn't drain well and they tend to rot. So not willing to leave them in the ground and take the chance. Get a wet winter and they're gone.

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