Don't Let Your Dahlias Freeze: Overwintering Dahlias

dahlia tubers

As a gardener, I know how much time and effort go into growing beautiful dahlias. Dahlias are a great addition to any garden, with their bright colors and variety of shapes and sizes. However, with winter approaching, you might be wondering how to protect your dahlias from the cold. In this article, I will provide you with a guide to overwintering dahlias and the steps you need to take to ensure your dahlias thrive next season.


Introduction to Overwintering Dahlias

Overwintering dahlias is the process of storing dahlias during the winter months to protect them from the cold weather. Dahlias are not frost-tolerant, and if left outside, they will die back to the ground. Overwintering dahlias will ensure that they survive the winter and come back strong in the spring.


Why Overwinter Dahlias?

Overwintering dahlias has several benefits. First, it saves you money. Dahlias are not cheap, and overwintering them will save you from having to buy new ones every year. Second, it protects your investment. Dahlias take a lot of time and effort to grow, and overwintering them ensures that your hard work pays off. Third, it allows you to grow your collection. If you overwinter your dahlias, you can keep them for years and create a collection of dahlias that are unique to your garden.


When to Start Overwintering Dahlias

The best time to start overwintering dahlias is after the first frost. You want to wait until the foliage turns black, and the stems start to wither. This is a sign that the plant is going into dormancy. Once this happens, it's time to dig up the tubers and prepare them for winter storage.


How to Dig Up Dahlias

To dig up dahlias, you'll need a digging fork or a shovel. Gently loosen the soil around the plant, being careful not to damage the tubers. Once you have loosened the soil, lift the plant out of the ground. Shake off any loose soil, and cut the stems down to about 6 inches.


Cleaning and Preparing Dahlias for Storage

Once you have dug up your dahlias, you'll need to clean them and prepare them for storage. First, remove any excess soil from the tubers. Second, cut off any damaged or diseased parts of the tubers. Third, let the tubers dry for a few days before storing them. This will prevent rot from forming in storage.


Choosing the Right Storage Location

When choosing a storage location for your dahlias, you want to find a cool, dry, and dark place. A basement or garage is an excellent location for storing dahlias. You can also use a cardboard box or a paper bag to store your tubers. Just make sure the container has air holes to prevent moisture buildup.


Storing Dahlias Over Winter

Once you have chosen your storage location, it's time to store your dahlias. Place the tubers in the container, making sure they are not touching each other. Cover them with a layer of peat moss or sawdust, and then seal the container.


Checking on Dahlias During the Winter

It's essential to check on your dahlias during the winter months. Check the moisture level of the peat moss or sawdust and add water if necessary. If the tubers are starting to shrivel, mist them with water. You should also check for signs of rot or mold. If you notice any issues, remove the affected tubers immediately.


Replanting Dahlias in the Spring

In early spring, you can start to prepare for replanting your dahlias. About a month before the last frost, you can start to bring your dahlias out of storage. Remove them from the container and inspect them for any signs of damage or rot. If you notice any issues, discard the affected tubers. Then, plant the tubers in a sunny location with well-draining soil.



Overwintering dahlias is a great way to protect your investment and grow your collection. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your dahlias survive the winter and come back strong in the spring. Remember to choose the right storage location, check on your dahlias throughout the winter, and avoid common mistakes. With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy your beautiful dahlias year after year.