Dahlias: is it worth digging out rhizomes in the fall and how to store them in winter

Dahlias, distinguished by their brightness and variety of colors, abundance and duration of flowering, unpretentiousness, are loved by many gardeners. But the bushes will not survive the harsh Russian winters, so the rhizomes have to be dug out annually.

How and when dahlia tubers are dug

There is no exact date for digging dahlias. It is determined by the peculiarities of the local climate. It is necessary to wait for the first frost, after which the stems and leaves darken and begin to rot. After that, you need to act quickly, within 2-3 days, so that the rot does not have time to spread to the rhizomes.

Dahlia rhizomes are dug up quite late, only after the first frost

In the south of Russia, you will have to wait the longest: until the end of November or even until December. In the middle lane, dahlias are dug out at the junction of October and November. In the Urals and Siberia, the temperature can drop to zero and lower already at the end of September or in the first decade of October.

You can't rush to dig out the rhizomes. They will not have enough time to accumulate enough nutrients for growth, development and flowering next year.

The procedure for extracting dahlias from the soil is extremely simple:

  1. Use a sharp pruner with disinfected blades to shorten the stems, leaving "hemp" 15–20 cm high. Pruning cannot be done in advance (before the first frost). This provokes the activation of already "asleep" growth buds, new shoots begin to develop, which is completely unnecessary on the eve of winter.

    Cut the dahlia just before digging up so that the nutrients have time to pass from the aerial part of the plant to the rhizome

  2. Rake up the mulch and soil at the base of the stems.
  3. Dig an annular groove up to 10 cm deep, stepping back from the base of the bush about 30 cm.
  4. Pry the bush with a pitchfork or a shovel, loosen it like a milk tooth, and turn it out of the soil without pulling the stem. It breaks very easily, the tubers will remain in the ground. The root collar is also easy to damage.

    To extract a dahlia from the soil, it is hooked from below, and not pulled by the stem.

  5. If you are digging up several dahlias at once, put them in separate boxes or boxes with labels so as not to confuse varieties.

    In appearance, the rhizomes of dahlias do not differ, so it is better to immediately sign the dug specimens somehow

Video: optimal timing and procedure for digging dahlias

Preparing rhizomes for winter storage

Competent preparation reduces the risk of damage to dahlias during winter storage to almost zero. You will need the following actions:

  • Gently shake the soil off the rhizomes removed from the ground. Rinse off the remains with cool running water.

    The dug out rhizomes must be washed so that you can examine them.

  • Examine the rhizomes. Using a sharp, disinfected knife, cut off any dry, decayed areas to healthy tissue. You also need to get rid of the remnants of the stems, thin roots and small lateral processes. If you were planning to divide the plant, do it now so that there are 3-4 growth buds left on each division.

    If you plan to divide the dahlia, the rhizome is cut immediately, in the fall, without putting it off until the spring

  • For disinfection, soak the rhizomes in a bright pink solution of potassium permanganate for 2-3 hours. You can also pickle them in any fungicide solution. The second procedure takes less time - only 20-30 minutes. You cannot skip this stage, dahlias are susceptible to fungal diseases.

    Dahlias often suffer from fungal diseases, so disinfection of rhizomes is mandatory

  • Sprinkle the cut sections with crushed activated charcoal, chalk, wood ash or brush with greenery.
  • Dry the dahlias thoroughly for 10-15 days, spreading them out on a cloth or paper. There should be no moisture on them at all, otherwise the development of rot is inevitable.

Video: how to properly prepare excavated dahlias for wintering

In what conditions and in what way can tubers be stored in an apartment or a private house

In order for the rhizomes to survive the winter safely, they need to be placed in a dark place, providing high (80–85%) humidity, a temperature of 3–6 ° C and an influx of fresh air. Based on this, the most suitable place in an apartment is a glazed balcony or refrigerator, in a private house - a closed veranda. However, it is possible to deviate significantly from the optimal conditions if you apply special storage methods.

Methods for storing dahlia rhizomes:

  • In sand. Everything is very simple - the rhizomes are placed in wooden boxes, cardboard boxes and covered with fresh sand. The method has only one drawback - the sand "draws" moisture from the air and dampens it. But it turns into dignity if the only place where you can store dahlias is damp. However, the sand in this case will have to be changed frequently.

    Sand for storing dahlias is good for everyone, except that it quickly sucks moisture from both the air and rhizomes

  • In perlite, vermiculite. This material is preferable to sand as it does not absorb moisture. The storage method itself is identical to that described above. Vermiculite retains heat well, so a box or box with rhizomes can be removed even on an open balcony, in an unheated garage. In a warm room, rhizomes are likely to germinate earlier than expected.

    Dahlia rhizomes covered with perlite can only be stored in a cool place.

  • In sawdust. You can use the cheapest sawdust that is sold in pet stores, as long as they are dry. Sawdust retains heat well and does not dry out the rhizomes. Rhizomes covered with them can be stored both in heated rooms and practically on the street.

    The sawdust used to cover the rhizomes of dahlias must be fresh and dry.

  • In moss. There is still no unequivocal opinion about this method. Its adherents consider the method to be the best, opponents rightly note that rot quickly develops in wet moss, and dry rhizomes dry out.

    Wet sphagnum moss can provoke rotting of dahlia rhizomes

  • In polyethylene. The rhizomes are wrapped in two or three layers of cling film. Thus, they are, as it were, canned, maintaining the state in which they were at the time of digging for the whole winter. You can store them at room temperature, but always in a dark place. The condition of the dahlias in the film is easy to control.

    The cling film allows you to "preserve" the rhizomes of the dahlia

  • In a refrigerator. This method will not work for you if you have a lot of rhizomes. But 2-3 pieces can be put in plastic bags with perforations, covered with sand, peat chips or sawdust and put into the refrigerator, away from the door - in the corner of the bottom shelf, in the compartment for fruits and vegetables. Inspect them regularly for rot.
  • On a glassed-in balcony. Boxes with rhizomes are simply put there, covered with old blankets or clothes to keep moisture and avoid direct sunlight.
  • In paraffin. Know-how often recommended by experienced gardeners. The method is especially suitable for young and medium-sized rhizomes. A piece of paraffin is grated or simply chopped into pieces, melted in a water bath. The rhizomes are dipped into the resulting mass for a couple of seconds and the paraffin is allowed to harden for several hours. Dahlias processed in this way can be stored under normal conditions, at room temperature. The only condition is to remove them away from any heat sources, otherwise the paraffin will melt.

    Dahlia rhizomes embedded in paraffin cannot be kept, for example, near a radiator

  • In a clay shell. Clay is an alternative to paraffin, the shell will not melt when the temperature rises. It needs to be diluted with water to a thick creamy mass, dip the dahlias there and let the crust dry. The necessary moisture is preserved under the clay shell, the development of rot is almost excluded.

    Clay shell for dahlia rhizomes is more reliable than paraffin

Video: storing dahlias in sawdust

Basement or cellar storage

Considering the optimal conditions for storing dahlias, basements and cellars, where a stable low, but still positive temperature is established in winter and high humidity is constantly kept, it is an ideal place for dahlias. The tubers left there will not dry out until they lose their viability, but they will not germinate earlier than necessary.

If you grow a lot of dahlias, the cellar is the most suitable place for them.

Underfloor is also acceptable. But keep in mind that it is a little warmer there than in the basement, and the air is drier, ventilation is often absent. Here you will have to turn on the fan a couple of times a week, providing fresh air.

Additionally, you will need to protect dahlias from rodents. To do this, use mousetraps, sticky traps, poisons, special ultrasonic scarers. The most effective folk remedy is peppermint essential oil. Paper or linen napkins are laid out on glass or plastic jars, dripping a couple of drops of ether on them, and placed around the room. The smell disappears in 7-10 days, then it will need to be "refreshed".

Mice in the cellar are frequent guests; rhizomes of dahlias, they will also find it quite edible

Digging up the rhizomes of dahlias in the fall is easy. The main tasks facing the gardener are to properly prepare them for storage and provide optimal conditions in winter. Nothing supernatural is required from you, but knowledge of certain nuances is necessary.

Perennial dahlias - when to dig up and how to store in winter

Dahlias are flowers of extraordinary beauty. They delight us with their lush flowering from mid-summer until the first frost. So that next year they continue to delight us with their flowering, there are certain rules for their cultivation. And an especially important point is their cleaning for the winter and further storage. In this article, you can learn how and when to harvest perennial dahlias, as well as how to properly store them until spring.

Unlike other perennial flowers, which include dahlias, the tubers (root system) of these flowers cannot hibernate in frozen ground, since it is a thermophilic plant. They must be dug up every fall after vegetative growth and flowering have ceased. Low temperatures have a detrimental effect on flowers and the planting material will simply freeze and rot.

Only correctly and on time dug out bushes will guarantee that next year in your garden they will again decorate your garden with a bright variety of colors.

Digging up tubers

To ensure the safety of the plant, it is necessary to ensure the correct storage of dahlias at home, to observe the timing of digging.

Before digging dahlias, it is worth noting the varieties - the varieties have similar rhizomes, and if there is a large variety in the garden, it will be difficult to distinguish them during spring planting. It is convenient to attach the label to the bottom of the stem (just above the ground). The name of the dahlia variety, information about the height of the plant, the color of the flowers and the type of inflorescence (for example: dahlia pompom, height 100 cm, red flowers) are written on the label.


The optimal time to dig up dahlias in autumn comes when the first frosts are noted - the leaves and flowers have withered. Digging should not be done too early, because in autumn the plants accumulate in the thickened roots the reserve substances necessary for good storage and better growth in spring.

Work order

  1. Dahlia shoots are cut with pruning shears at a height of 10-20 cm above the ground. Frozen parts and inflorescences are placed in a compost pit.
  2. Digging out the roots of the dahlia. It is advisable to use a pitchfork so as not to damage the dahlia tubers.
  3. Attach a label with the variety name or information about the height, color of flowers to each tuber. In the spring, it will be easier to choose the right place for the plant.
  4. The dug rhizomes are gently shaken off of excess soil, should not be washed with water.
  5. Dry dahlia tubers in a warm, dry place. Better to dry in a greenhouse or at home on a windowsill.
  6. After several days of drying, we clean up the remnants of the soil, remove dead and damaged pieces of tubers. The cut areas are treated with charcoal, which will reduce the penetration of pathogens. The old rhizome can also be split. At this stage, only those tubers that break off easily are separated.
  7. You can shorten the shoots to a height of 5-8 cm. This will make it easier to store the dahlias.
  8. Place the tubers in open boxes or baskets lined with newspaper. Cover them with peat, sand or sawdust on top, store in a dry and spacious room.

How to store dahlias in winter

It is very important not to delay the processing of tubers for a long time, it is advisable to do this during the day, as they dry out and deteriorate very quickly. There are different ways to help preserve the tubers until the next planting. Let's take a look at a few of them.

The easiest way is to store the dug out well-dried tubers in specially prepared wooden boxes covered with newspaper. Filled boxes are placed in a cool place, such as a barn or garage for a week, and then covered with newspaper and tucked away in the basement or any other place designed to store vegetables.

If you do not have a basement, you can use a method that allows you to store dahlias in your apartment. To prepare dahlia tubers in this way, you need the following:

  • Purchase paraffin wax or regular candles and boxes or nets.
  • Melt the prepared paraffin in a water bath over medium heat.
  • After that, tubers are dipped alternately into the melted paraffin on both sides. This must be done very quickly, since paraffin has the property of instantly solidifying.
  • Then the processed tubers are folded into separate boxes according to varieties and displayed in the pantry or on the balcony. The main condition for the effectiveness of such storage is that the place where the tubers will be placed is cool and not damp.

This method allows you to protect the dahlia tubers from drying out and rotting.

If you do not have many roots, then the following method is quite suitable for you, which allows you to store dahlias for the whole winter:

  • Well-peeled dahlia tubers are laid out in a cool place on a newspaper and left to dry for two weeks.
  • After drying, the stems are cut to the very root.
  • Then dahlias are laid out in prepared boxes or other containers.
  • After that, dry sand or sawdust is poured into the boxes, so that the bulk material completely covers the dahlia tuber.

A more economical and convenient way is the method of storing tubers in winter in plastic wrap or in bags. For this method, the tubers must be treated with colloidal sulfur or any other solution intended for these cases. After that, peat is poured into the bags and the processed dahlia tuber is placed there. Then the plastic bag must be tied tightly. Packaged tubers are folded into a container and placed in a dry, not hot place. The advantages of this method are that the tubers will not have unwanted contact with each other, and their condition can be checked quite easily, thanks to being in a transparent package.

To increase the chances of saving more dahlia tubers, you also need to know a few little secrets:

  • Before processing dahlias, you can divide them into several parts.In this case, it is very important to select larger tubers for separation, which must have good buds. This will increase the number of future flowers, as well as insure against a large loss of tubers.
  • It is very important to check the dahlias frequently and remove the spoiled ones from the crate to prevent spoilage of all other tubers.
  • If the dahlia tuber is purchased from a store, before storing it for storage, you need to check if it has any buds that have hatched. If none are found, the tubers must be set aside for germination.

Storage requirements

How to store dahlias at home, each grower must decide, taking into account his capabilities. But there are general storage rules:

  • low temperature (+ 3 ° С - + 5 ° С)
  • moderate humidity (60 - 70%)
  • constant ventilation (to prevent mold and rot).

Dahlia tubers are usually stored in garages or outbuildings, provided that they do not freeze. But then you will often need to air them.

It is advisable to store dahlias in an apartment in a wooden or cardboard container (boxes, boxes) on an insulated loggia.

When to dig up and how to store dahlias in winter

The first frost is a signal that it's time to get down to business.

It is not difficult to understand from the bush, the green leaves will wither, turn black from the night cold.

It is better to dig up tubers in dry, sunny weather.

The stems of the plant are cut 10-15 cm from the surface of the soil and carefully dug out.

Remove them carefully so as not to damage the fragile root collar.

The remaining soil is removed from the tubers and examined.

With damage, stains, as well as thin specimens, they are ruthlessly discarded, cut out and thrown away.

Damaged tubers can provoke the development of rot, and thin tubers will dry out during storage.

Then the stems are reduced to 3 cm. Cutting out unnecessary parts is carried out with a clean tool, all cuts are sprinkled with wood ash.

Selected tubers are washed with water - this helps to wash off pathogenic microorganisms and prevent the occurrence of putrefactive diseases during further storage.

And you can also play it safe and immerse them in a strong solution of potassium permanganate or other fungicide for 20 minutes for disinfection.

Then be sure to dry them well, placing the tubers with the stem down.

This is done so that moisture in the hollow stem does not stagnate and leave.

Before harvesting root tubers for a permanent storage place, they are kept in a cool room.

During this time, the wounds will dry out, the tubers will harden, unreliable specimens will have time to show themselves (rot develops on them, an unpleasant odor appears).

We store in the refrigerator

You can also save root tubers in the refrigerator. The dried planting material is kept in bags with sawdust, in which it is recommended to make holes for ventilation. The bags are additionally wrapped in paper and stored in the lower compartment of the refrigerator. If there are few root tubers, they are simply wrapped in paper and stored in the lower vegetable compartment.

With any storage method, the planting material is checked approximately every 4 weeks.

Damaged tubers are thrown away immediately so that they do not infect healthy cuttings. In the spring, boxes or bags with dahlias are transferred to a warmer place so that the root tubers wake up faster.

Knowing how to properly store dahlias, you can admire these beautiful flowers in your garden from year to year, keeping your favorite varieties and not worrying about decorating the site every year.

Watch the video: Digging Up and Storing Dahlias - SGD 237

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