Storing Dahlia Tubers Over Winter
~ Gardening Committee ~
The method described below is simply a suggestion
for storing Dahlia tubers over winter. Fair to state that everyone will use what works
Now depending on the area you live in many bulbs and tubers can remain in the Earth
with additional mulch. For those that live in Zone 5 or higher, this option is not open
After the first or second frost in autumn, or when the frost
blackens the dahlia growth (be careful not to leave until a freezing
frost) cut all the growth back leaving about 6 inch stems. Don't
start digging them up right away because you want new growth nodules that
appear at the crown to show themselves a bit. After a few days take your
spade fork and go around each clump keeping back about 10 to 12 inches
or more depending on its size. If you keep your clumps to about 3 to 4 pounds,
this will produce a nice grouping of blooms.
Gently removing loose soil, take each clump, turn it upside down
on something like a picnic table with slatted boards for air circulation is good
and let them dry for about another 3 days. Then take each clump and using the
"spray" setting on your hose, remove all the remaining soil from their roots. This
is a gentle process and takes time as you don't want to get any water into the stems.
If you do it will increase the chances of rot setting in over storage. You also don't
want to take any of the "skin" off the tubers either.
At this time remove any damaged tuber from the clump by simply cutting
them away from the main or "mother" tuber. When clean you can see
holes, or darkened or discolored spots and cuts, etc. After this
process turn the clumps upside down again and simply let them
completely dry for a few weeks. Rotate them every few days during this time,
always keeping stems down in the process.
If you can, keep trays on hand so that these clumps can be moved indoors in
case of rain or deep frost, as this way they can be moved back and forth taking
advantage of the sun and gently cooling temperatures during the day.
With regard to actually storing the clumps use cardboard boxes
lined with peat moss and after placing clumps so they aren't
touching put more peat moss around them and on top of them so they
are completely covered. Place the boxes side by side on a shelf or
two, without touching one another and simply cover with a sheet of
cardboard which ensures they are in the dark.
It is important to keep your bulbs/tubers in a dry, cool place. Use a
thermometer to make sure your storage temperatures stay between 40 to 45
degrees for optimal preservation. Anything lower or higher means loss.
Don't forget to check them once in awhile to make sure they are okay,
meaning haven't any shriveling or rot present.
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