Dahlias as Cut Flowers
The more you cut dahlias, the more they’ll bloom—and dahlias are beautiful in a vase. For a bouquet, cut stems in the morning before the heat of the day and put them into a bucket of cool water. Remove stems’ bottom leaves and place the flowers into a vase of water. Place the vase in a cool spot and out of direct sun. Check the water daily. The bouquet should last about a week.
Digging and Storing Dahlias for Winter
Unless you live in a warmer region (USDA Hardiness Zone 8 or warmer), you’ll have to dig up dahlias in late fall. Native to Mexico, Dahlias won’t survive freezing temperatures. Digging and storing dahlias is extremely easy and simple, and will save you the money that would otherwise go into buying new ones each year.
Gardeners north of Zone 8 are advised to lift and store the tuberous roots during winter.
Some Zone 7 growers claim that dahlias will survive winter in the ground if the weather isn’t too severe, but this is risky. They will not survive freezing temperatures. In Zone 6 or colder, plan to dig them up.
Wait to dig up dahlia tubers until the top growth dies back or is killed by the first hard frost. See your fall frost dates for an idea of when frost usually arrives in your area.
Dahlia foliage blackens with the first frost. Take it as a warning to begin digging up (lifting) dahlias. Complete the task before a hard frost.
Delay cutting dahlia stems until right before digging, because the stems are hollow and can collect water, which in turn promotes crown rot and tuber decay.
Cut off blackened foliage, leaving 2 to 4 inches of top growth.
Carefully dig around tubers with a pitchfork, garden fork, or shovel. Avoid damaging them. The “neck” on dahlia tubers is delicate and can be easily damaged while digging.
Lift the clump and gently shake off the soil. Or, swish them around in a tub of water or use a garden hose to wash away any clumps of soil. Soil contains microorganisms that can cause decay in storage, so it’s best to remove as much as possible.
Cut off rotten tubers.
How to Store Dahlias in Winter
After being dug up, the dahlia tubers then need to be allowed to dry and cure. Leave the clumps outside in the sun upside down to dry naturally for a few days. Or, place the dahlias in a well-ventilated area with a constant temperature between 60°F and 70°F and out of direct sunlight.
When dry, pack them in loose, fluffy material, such as vermiculite, dry sand Styrofoam peanuts, or wood shavings, all of which work. Place tubers inside plastic bags or cardboard boxes filled with material that maintains moisture around the tubers but allows air flow. Cover them with more storage medium before placing them in a cool storage spot.
Store in a well-ventilated, frost-free space: 40º to 45ºF is ideal, 35º to 50ºF is acceptable.
Tuber clumps can either be left intact for the winter and divided in the spring, or they can be divided in the fall. Some gardeners find that it is easier to divide in the fall, and divisions are more convenient to store.
Check on the dahlia tubers occasionally over the winter. Remove any tubers that have started to rot before the decay spreads to healthy tubers.
Readying for Summer
In spring, separate healthy tubers from the parent clump and discard wrinkled or rotten ones. Plan to plant the survivors.
Each tuber must have at least one “eye” or piece of the crown attached or it will not develop into a blooming plant. The eyes are little pink bumps at the base of the stem.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/plant/dahlias
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365