Thursday, October 27

So will the dahlia tubers survive this winter?

For several years we had left our dahlia tubers to over-winter in the ground. Our method of over-wintering is explained on my website here. Despite gardening on a heavy clay soil our storage method had been successful with hardly any loss of tubers at all. That is until last winter. 

Last winter was exceptional and resulted in us losing most of our dahlias. I’m not too sure that we would have had any more success if we had lifted the tubers as other gardeners reported losses despite lifting and storing.

Anyway I decided rather than buying new tubers I would attempt growing some new plants from seed. I bought a packet of Giant Hybrids Mixed  and ended up with 30 young dahlia plants.
These were planted out on the plot in June but were very slow to grow - another victim of the really dry conditions.
In July the first of the flowers opened but the rest followed very slowly. Eventually all except for a couple grew into decent sized plants and flowered.
I was a bit disappointed that although there was a lovely colour range the flowers didn’t really look as I had expected.. I’m not sure whether this was down to the dry weather or not.

Anyway we have decided to lift the tubers this year just in case we have a repeat of last winter. The tubers have been placed in the plot greenhouse onto some wire ‘shelves’. This allows air to circulate around them. The tubers have also been placed stems pointing down so that moisture doesn’t accumulate in the hollow stems. 
Whether the tubers survive of not is in the lap of the gods but either way I think I’ll probably buy some different seeds to grow next year - maybe some pom-pom varieties which are really good as cut flowers - not too large.


  1. I LOVE Dahlias! I have never grown them but my grandma did when I was a child. I remember being fascinated by the flowers that were the same size as my head!
    I am growing them for the first time this year and the tubers I put in very early spring (bought online from ebay of all places) haven't come up yet! I may have planted them too deep, but I don't know. I purchased one from the shops and it has already sprouted. hmm. I might dig them up and see what's going on. Should I have watered the tubers? Ahh all these things I don't know! I really want to take some flowers to my grandma (very old and has parkinsons AND dementia)so I hope I get a few flowers!
    I'll have to investigate your website for some more info!

  2. I admire the disciplined way in which you plotted the position of each plant and its matching photograph!
    My Dad used to lift his Dahlia tubers and wrap them in newspaper, keeping them indoors in a cold spare bedroom.

  3. They are summer plants Phoebe so you still have time for them to appear. You shouldn't really need to water the tubers. I wouldn't dig them up.

    We'll cover them with something Mark. I don't fancy having 40 tubers in the house besides which with central heating nowhere is really cool enough - thank goodness.

  4. Just to explain the 40 - some of last years tubers decided to grow too!

  5. I also love Dahlias and like you have left them in the ground in the past and just mulched them really well.But also like you we lost quite a lot last winter-so this year I have been taking cuttings as it would be impossible to lift all the tubers.I got the idea from one of Christopher Lloyds books where Fergus showed how to take cuttings and anytime.So I have taken cuttings even in early October and they have all rooted,so fingers crossed.They are quite thirsty and hungry plants so will always do better with food and water

  6. Any suggestions as to what to do with dahlias grown in tubs?


  7. They've made good sized tubers. I think you're doing the right thing lifting them, I keep hearing that we're going to have a bad winter again, though that will probably mean that it ends up being mild.

  8. Hope the tuber survive! Your dahlias collection very pretty, it is hard to pick a favourite. I tried growing dahlia for the first time last year and got some tubers. However, I planted them back but none sprouted yet. We did collected some seeds but probably it was still cold when I sowed it none germinate.

  9. Good luck Sue! I hope to lift mine this weekend, and once they are dry I will wrap them in newspaper, pack them in boxes with shredded paper, and put them in the loft. Hopefully warmer and drier than the garage, so hopefully no losses. Fingers crossed. Though the virulent scarlet one can die, I wouldn't mind...

  10. Last winter has made us all feel less sure about what will survive hasn't it, Flowerlady?

    Hi Danny, are you moving the tub inside a greenhouse? The important thing is to keep it as frost free as possible and not let it get soggy. Can you wrap the tub in bubblewrap (even in a cold greenhouse) and also if the pot is staying outside raise the tub up onto something so any moisture drains out easily maybe when the weather is really wet you could shelter it somewhere. Alternatively you could take it out of the pot and store in the same way as outdoor grown tubers.

    Maybe the weathermen are spooked Jo and want to predict the worst just in case - either way we are having our central heating pipes looked at to try and avoid them freezing up again this year.

    There is still time for you Diana - hope you get some beautiful flowers.

    A good idea, Janet - the problem with our loft would be the effort of getting them all up there as we don't have a loft ladder. I think with the ones that we have that are nothing special (sh don't tell them that I said that) are not worth it - I'd rather grow some more from seed next year!

  11. This free winter protection pack from Yorkshire Water might be helpful to you if we do get a bad winter, Sue.

  12. I'll take a look, Jo thanks

  13. One year 90 per cent of ours got wiped out. When we planted out the 1 in ten remaining they were all mauve and white, "Edinburgh". A portent of things to come for me.

    (Lokkong at the history the year would probably have been 1979)

  14. Fortune telling dahlias, Mal? Spooky


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