Landscape Logic: Save your tubers
Still have tubers in the ground? Time to save them.
Those beautiful dinner-plate-sized flowers we enjoy until frost need to be rescued before cold weather is here to stay. Take an hour or so during the warm weekend ahead to save your dahlias.
Because they are not hardy to overwinter in the soil, dahlias are an annual in Colorado. They split in freezing temps and can mold if the soil becomes soggy.
Unlike most other annuals we enjoy, dahlias can be dug up, put to bed for the winter and divided before planting in the spring to create even more flowering plants. Following these easy steps to get the job done:
Remove top growth leaving a couple of inches.
Dig the tubers, being careful not to damage them.
Brush off the soil and let tubers dry for a few days. While they need to dry to avoid rotting, they still need to have some moisture inside to remain viable. When the skin is wrinkled, the tubers are ready to store.
The most important step in storage is to keep tubers from touching one another. Tubers can be packed in peat moss, sand or cedar chips. They can also be stored with packing material in heavy plastic bags or a in foam ice chest.
Ideal temperature for storage is 40 to 50 degrees. A cool place in a basement or crawl space can work well, but garages that reach freezing temps won’t be suitable.
During the winter, check tubers occasionally and remove any that have rot to keep it from spreading to other tubers.
As with other annuals, plant tubers in the spring after danger of frost has passed.
When we rescue dahlias from the winter freeze, we are good stewards and paying it forward to the gardening season ahead.