Looking after your Dahlias during winter

The weather here is still being kind and, although we have had two or three frosts, they have not been hard enough to kill frost tender plants. Indeed, I still have a number of annuals in flower, notably marigolds and nicotiana .

Although the Dahlias are still flowering very well, now is the time to lift them if you are going to do so. I must admit I don’t lift mine. AlthoughI live in the midlands, most seem to survive the frosts. I know that I risk losing them, aqnd some do die during the winter, but most survive. If I lose too many, I will buy some more Tubers next spring and take cuttings again. I don’t really have a good place to keep them and feel the risk is worthwhile. My Dahlias even survived outside last winter, which was exceptionally cold.If you are risking them outside, do make sure you cut the foliage off when it has been frosted. It goes black and slimy and if left will encourage pests and diseases into the tubers.

However, if you want to be sure, now is the time to lift them. Take all the foliage off the tubers – it shop break off reasonably easily. Then dig them out of the ground. Clean all the mud off of them and dust them with an anti-fungal powder. Make sure they are dry when you do this. Then put a layer of damp – not wet – sand in a container. The sand should be just damp. You don’t want the tubers to start growing again.

Next lay your tubers on the sand making sure they don’t touch eac h other. If there are any parts of the tuber which are showing disease or which are dried or thin, break these off and discard them. They won’t grow next year and you are just askimng for problems by keeping them. Make sure you label each tuber – you will have forgotten what they are next year.

Cover your tubers with barely damp soil and place the container in a dark, cold (frost free ) place. Make sure the mice can’t get to your container. Do not put a lid on the container. You want the air to circulate or the tubers might go musty and rot.

It really is that simple. Next spring, bring them out, dust them off and bury them, either in the garden or in seed trays in a warm place so that you can take cuttings or just to bring them into flower earlier.

Dahlias are simple plants to grow. They require very little in the way of maintenance and will reward you with an abundance of flowers for a long period of time, flowering until the frosts cut them back.


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