How to Overwinter Dahlias

pink dahlia flowers
Loading... 91 view(s)
How to Overwinter Dahlias

Overwintering Cannas, Dahlias, Caladiums, Tuberous Begonias, and Elephant Ears

For gardeners who reside in colder regions, nurturing tender tropical plants into their full perennial glory can present a challenge. While you might decide to enjoy these bulb-grown beauties as annuals, you can also lift them before your first frost in fall to overwinter them, cultivating an ever-increasing display with each passing season. Add tropical fair to your garden by incorporating these exotic perennials grown from bulbs, tubers, or rhizomes, and dive into the world of overwintering with confidence.


1. Dig with Care: 

As the bloom spectacle wanes and foliage begins to wither towards late fall, your plants signal it's time for dormancy. Employ clean pruning shears to trim back the foliage just above the ground, around 6 inches, to prompt dormancy and deter rot. Exercise caution during excavation, ensuring to dig about a foot away from the crown to avoid piercing the delicate tubers —a surefire invitation for rot.

divide the tuberdivide the tuber

2. Divide and Conquer: 

Dividing the plant not only fosters healthier growth but also expands your garden's splendor. Identify the dormant "eyes," resembling potato eyes, where new growth will emerge. Segment the plant, preserving individual tubers as intact as possible, ensuring each division possesses at least one eye for robust future growth.

dry the tubersdry the tubers

3. Dry for Success: 

Now set the tubers out to dry. Leave them out at least 3 days until they are thoroughly dry. Placing them on cardboard can help. Getting the tubers dry will prevent them from rotting.

Lastly, you want to put your dried tubers away for the winter. A cardboard box, wooden box, or basket are all great storage places, as they allow some ventilation. Place the tubers in a medium, like wood chips, sand, or vermiculite, which will insulate and help to prevent rot. This medium should be just slightly moist to keep the tubers from drying out too much over winter. 

Then place your box in a dark, cool place (50 degrees at most, 35 degrees at the least) over winter. A cellar, garage, basement, or even dark closet might work—if all else fails, set a small refrigerator to 45 degrees and store your overwinter plants there. Don’t forget to label your box so you know what varieties are in it. Check in on your tubers just a few times throughout the winter to make sure they are not rotting or getting too shriveled up. A little bit of shriveling is normal, but if they seem very dry, give them a spritz of water. Remember that the tuber stops "drinking" during dormancy, so they just need a small amount of water to keep them from completely drying out. And if you see signs of rot, throw those tubers out.

By diligently following these steps, anticipate a bountiful spring harvest, teeming with vibrant blooms to adorn your garden anew. For those eager to jump-start the season, consider initiating indoor growth about a month in advance, gradually acclimating plants to light before transplanting outdoors. Embrace the journey of overwintering, and witness your garden flourish into a perennial paradise of unparalleled beauty.

Out of stock

Out of stock

Freesia & Ranunculus Grand Blend Bulbs
Liatris 'Kobold Original' Bulbs