Dahlia is a favorite of many gardeners, its luxurious flowers of different shapes and shades can decorate any plot.
Despite the fact that the plant is native to South America, preserving dahlias for the winter is not difficult if you create the right conditions.
For dahlias to bloom in the new season as well, it is important to give the tubers a warm wintering. Do not leave them in the soil because they will turn black and die after the first severe cold.
In August, when dahlias are in full bloom, stop feeding and allow the plants to rest. Just at this time, the formation of tubers and their storage of nutrients begins.
Care for dahlias in autumn – preparing for winter
Now let’s understand how to prepare dahlias for winter. In early September, bushes need to be quite high (about 8-12 cm in height). This will make them more resistant to wind and cover the base of the trunk, which means that the tubers will grow strong. In general, the procedure can also be done in late summer.
Dahlias should be watered in moderation, so that excess moisture does not lead to infection. Weak stems without buds, lower leaves, as well as withered flowers should be cut off to accelerate the formation of new buds.
When to dig up dahlias?
In the middle belt and Moscow suburbs, dahlias are dug in mid to late October, depending on the weather. It is good when by the time of digging the dipped tubers have already withstood several weak touches of frost – this will harden them and help them to endure wintering at home without problems.
So, how do you preserve dahlias in winter? The first thing you should do is use a secateurs to cut off all the stems, leaving a stump 10-15 cm high. If you cut the stems lower, there is a risk of infection entering the tubers. Also if the stump is not high enough, water can enter the tubers and they will simply begin to rot.
Then gently loosen the bush and prick it with a pitchfork to loosen the soil around it. Also use a pitchfork to lift the dahlia, taking care not to pull on the stems. If the weather allows, you can leave the dug-up tubers to dry out on a bed for a few hours, after which the soil should be shaken off and the tubers should be carefully inspected.
It is better to divide the tubers strictly before planting, otherwise, they will lose a lot of moisture over the winter.
Treatment of dahlia tubers before storing in winter
For disease prevention, treat washed dahlia tubers with a fungicide, such as Phytosporin. Prepare the solution according to the instructions and soak the tubers in it for about an hour. A pink manganese solution can also be used instead of fungicides. Soak the tubers in it for about 30 minutes.
Then label the tubers with the names of the varieties. If the variety is unknown, you can be guided by the size of the bush, shape, or color of the flowers.
The next step in preparing dahlias for winter is to dry the tubers. To do this, choose a dark cool place and put bushes “upside-down”, so that the moisture accumulated in the stems will flow out and the tubers will not later rot.
How to store dahlias in winter at home
Dried dahlia tubers are placed tightly in plastic buckets or crates and covered with dry sand or sawdust, leaving the tops of the stems with tags not covered. To prevent sand from spilling out of the box, you can put a sugar bag on the bottom, and then lay a layer of newspapers.
Gardeners’ opinions on how to preserve dahlia tubers differ slightly: some use wet sand instead of dry sand. Here it is all individual, and if the tubers were dug in dry weather, and then not soaked in a fungicide solution, then sand or sawdust is really better to moisten.
There are several other ways to store dahlia tubers in winter:
- Dip the tubers in paraffin melted in a water bath, put them in boxes, and store them at 12-14°C;
- spread tubers in a box on a layer of peat, sprinkle peat on top, and store at 3-5°C;
- Put the tubers in a cardboard box and wrap them in paper or cellophane sacks.
How to Preserve Dahlias Until Spring
The optimum temperature for storing dahlias in winter is 3-6°C and the humidity is 60-70%. At lower temperatures, the tubers will freeze, at higher temperatures they will start to sprout. There are several places where plants will feel comfortable until the spring.
Cellars and basements. Characterized by high humidity and low temperatures. The tubers will not suffer from desiccation and will not sprout prematurely. This is the best place to store dahlias!
Basement. Here the humidity is lower than in the basement, and the temperature can be slightly higher, stagnant air often occurs. Therefore, it is recommended to turn on a fan in the room several times a week.
Refrigerator. A suitable place for a small number of dahlias. Put the tubers in a perforated bag and fill it with sawdust. Check regularly to make sure there is no rotting. The bottom or middle shelf is good for storage, as well as a compartment for vegetables.
Glazed balcony. Choose the darkest place and put the box with tubers in it. If the temperature starts to drop, cover the box with old blankets or clothes. In frost, it is better to move the tubers to a room for a while.
Periodically check the condition of the tubers, whether there are signs of rotting.
The 4 most dangerous diseases of dahlias
To prevent the tubers from being eaten by rodents, provide dahlias with protection. It is better to use fast-acting poison baits or ultrasonic repellents. There are reports that mice and rats cannot tolerate peppermint essential oil. To repel, soak paper tissues in oil, put them in glass jars without lids, and place them in different corners of the room or near boxes of tubers. Replace the wipes with new ones once a week.
Can dahlias not be dug up for the winter?
Beginner flower growers often wonder whether dahlias need to be dug up for the winter, is there any way to avoid this troublesome procedure? Unfortunately, these plants are very afraid of the cold and will not survive until spring. But there is a way out. If winter storage of dahlias is problematic for you, grow them as annuals. Or you can dig out only the most beloved and expensive varieties and replant the rest in the spring. The decision is yours!
Storing dahlia tubers is not difficult, but responsible, because you need to look after the “wintering” plant: check the tubers, regulate the temperature regime. Dahlia will not stay in debt, and will please you with its lush bright blossoms!