Dahlia bulbs need protecting over the winter, but can you achieve this by leaving them in the ground or must you lift them? Let’s have a look and find out.
Can Dahlia Bulbs Be Left In The Ground?
I will go into more detail below but in essence, you need to mulch your dahlias to offer them more protection. You also need to have good, well-draining soil.
If you have wet, clay soil then you won’t be able to leave your dahlias in the ground, no matter how much you mulch them.
Also the further north you are the less chance you will be successful in leaving your tubers in the ground. The only way to know whether you can or cant leave them in the ground though is really trial and error.
Leaving Dahlias In The Ground
If you have a smaller garden and no greenhouse or garage in which to store your Dahlias then it may be better for you to leave them in the ground.
This is also true for gardeners who want to enjoy Dahlias but just don’t have the time to dedicate to digging them all up and planting them all over again next year.
To start with you want to remove all vegetation from the plant right back to the base. Use some good secateurs for this as Dahlias can have tough almost woody stems.
You then want to apply a really thick mulch on top of your Dahlias, this is the secret to protecting them over winter.
You can use compost, leaf mould, bark, anything really as a mulch just make sure it is really thick. This should help prevent the ground underneath from freezing which will, in turn, protect your dahlias.
Lifting and Storing Dahlias
If you are going to dig your Dahlia tubers up and store them over winter then follow my quick guide below to ensure you give them the best chance possible.
To begin with, you will want to cut the foliage back almost to the base of the plant.
Once this is done gently lift them using a garden fork. You want to dig well away from the plant, to begin with, to make sure you don’t accidentally stick your fork through the tuber.
Remove any soil from the tuber by giving it a good shake and also a quick brush with your hands. I then like to leave the tubers in the sun for a few hours to dry out.
If the weather is poor then move them into a greenhouse or put them on a windowsill for a while to dry.
You then want to hang them upside down for a couple of weeks to make sure they are really dried out. Now, this obviously needs to be done in a frost-free place as the tubers are really vulnerable at this point.
If an early frost is forecast then you may want to consider bringing them inside.
After a couple of weeks of hanging, they will be ready for their winter hibernation. Wrap them in one or two sheets of newspaper before storing them over winter. You want a frost-free spot but one that also has decent ventilation.
A garage shed or greenhouse is usually a good idea. (depending on the weather greenhouses can get a little chilly so this really depends on your location and the weather that winter)