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Dahlia Tuber Winter Storage and Garage Insulating

dahlia-tuber-storage-blooms-to-remember-copyI had another highly successful year of growing dahlias. Not only did my direct planting experiment work well, but I grew some unexpectedly robust dahlia plants from seed. The only trouble with that was that they didn’t bloom until a couple of weeks before killing cold weather. This inspired me to dig them up and try to save them for next year, something I haven’t done with dahlia tubers before.

Fortunately, Swan Island Dahlias sends a wonderful little growing guide with their tubers. The first step is knowing when to dig. In summary:

  • wait until the plants have died back, indicated by turning black and brown
  • cut the stalks off at about 6 inches
  • dig gently to avoid breaking them
  • wash them (which I didn’t get to), then let them dry in a protected place for about a day

For winter storage, they recommend between 40 – 50°F. Our basement is too warm, even the cooler pantry room, which hovers around 60°F. The greenhouse is inconsistent, getting quite warm on sunny winter days. Plus, it is a high humidity location with the pond and waterfall. The garage seemed the best option, but it would take some work. Thus, I engaged in a quick garage insulating make-over, which I wrote about for D&B Supply.

Storage requires:

  • a storage medium, like slightly dampened peat moss, sand, or saw dust
  • cardboard boxes or ventilated crates
  • lining of newspaper or something similar

With the following procedure:

  • line the box with around 10 sheets of paper
  • put an initial layer of packing medium over the paper
  • add a layer of tubers
  • add more storage medium
  • and so on until the box is full
  • check the tubers throughout the storage time

Here’s what it looked like when I did it (click on any photo to enlarge):

The newspaper is covered by a layer of dampened peat moss and part of the first layer of dahlia tubers are inside.

The newspaper is covered by a layer of dampened peat moss and part of the first layer of dahlia tubers are inside.

The first layer of dahlia tubers has been covered with some more dampened peat moss. To dampen it, I just lightly sprinkled it with a sprinkling spout watering can.

The first layer of dahlia tubers has been covered with some more dampened peat moss. To dampen it, I just lightly sprinkled it with a sprinkling spout watering can.

The second layer of dahlia tubers is partially covered with peat moss.

The second layer of dahlia tubers is partially covered with peat moss.

And the box is full of dahlia tubers and peat moss!

And the box is full of dahlia tubers and peat moss!

I filled a total of 2 and a half boxes, then put them in a closet next to a house wall. To read more on this, check out the blog I wrote for D&B Supply!

I filled a total of 2 and a half boxes, then put them in a closet next to a house wall. To read more on this, check out the blog I wrote for D&B Supply!

The growing guide also gives some very nice instructions (with a simple illustration) for dividing the tubers, which I plan to do, since most of my tubers are huge! This, of course, depending on how well I monitor and regulate the temperature for their storage. We are expecting some sub-zero lows pretty soon. I might have to bring them into the laundry room for a few nights until I get the final insulating and heating options for the garage worked out. All the while, I will dream of dahlias blooming next year.

 

 

 

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