Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pottin' up the Dahlias

A few fall's ago, after years of looking in books and online for methods of overwintering dahlia tubers, trying every bizarre storage method only to find dead dahlias in the spring, I gave up and threw the tubers in a bag on the floor and forgot about them. Wanting to avoid the disappointment, I didn't even look in the 'forgotten' bag until spring, when I was delighted to find my dahlia tubers had actually lived, and were starting to grow.

So now, I have a pretty unconventional way of overwintering my dahlia tubers. Are you ready for this? After the first killing frost, I big up the tubers and plastic garden labels with their names on em', put them in a walmart bag, poke some holes in the bag, loosely tie it shut, and set them on the basement floor a few feet away from the shop lights where I overwinter my plants. I leave them there, but I do check on them once a month to make sure they are not shriveling, invaded by pests, or growing mold. Come March I start looking for growth, and when I find it, I bring them up into my kitchen:

I grab some empty nursery pots from the garage, add a sheet of newpaper to the bottom so I don't lose any dirt, and get ready to pot em' up.

See what they look like in the bag? Easy as pie.
And see this big guy is getting ready to grow- several healthy little shoots there.
It took me a whole day, but I have every dahlia potted up in fresh purchased soil, labelled, and resting on the basement floor- they will grow slowly there for another 8 weeks or so before I will start bringing them upstairs and possibly outside, depending on the forecast. This year will be tricky, because once they get settled outside we'll be moving them to Minnesota (around Memorial Day weekend). I hope to have them each potted up and well-staked, so I don't lose too many blooms on the drive. Regardless, if I remove any damaged stems after the move, and plant them in the ground, I'm certain to get some more blooms before frost.
Here are a few dahlias shots from last year:
Garden Wonder:
Tahiti Sunrise:
Tequila Sunrise:
Arabian Night:

Happy gardening!

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