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How to Save Dahlia Bulbs for Next Year

Do you love the beauty of dahlia flowers but wish you could enjoy their blooms year after year? Well now you can with this step by step tutorial on how to save dahlia bulbs for next year.

Blooming Dahlia flowers.

Saving Dahlia Bulbs for Next Season

One of our absolute favorite garden flowers are dahlias, bushy and hardy plants producing plenty of large blooms. In the plant world, dahlias are related to other species such sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnias. Their blooms are strikingly beautiful and long lasting making them a perfct addition to any garden.

Although they’re often called bulbs, the roots of the dahlia plants are technically called tubers. The dahlia plant is considered an annual flower in which they survive only one season. Unlike perenials such as tulips or dahlias, the tubers if left in the ground will die off over the Winter season. So to enjoy the beauty of their blooms next year, you’ll need save the tubers at the end of the flowering season.

A quick tour through our mom’s flower garden, will show just how much we adore these beautiful flowers. Each year our mom, also known as “mama dahlia” lovingly saves the tubers for the following season. Like most other bulbs, the tubers will multiply throughout the season producing more and more dahlias each year.

How to Save Dahlia Bulbs for Next Year

Saving dahlia bulbs for replanting next season requires just a bit of effort but the long lasting beautiful blooms make it well worth the effort. After years of experience, we’re sharing the step by set instructions to ensure your dahlia tubers will survive the Winter months and thrive the following season.

When is the best time remove dahlia tubers from the ground?

Even though the flowers may still be blooming, it is time to cut them down and remove the bulb if you wish to save the bulbs for next year. Although there is no set date or time to remove dahlia bulbs from the ground, it is important to remove them before the first frost. Depending on where you live, this could be in September, October or even November as was the case for us here in South-Western Ontario, Canada this year.  

Since dahlia’s continue to bloom all Fall season and even until that first frost, it is tempting to just leave them alone. But if you want to replant them in the Spring, be aware of the weather and changing season and give yourself time to dig them out before that first frost.

How do you remove dahlia tubers from the ground?

Using a pair of gardening shears, cut the dahlia stems close to the base (about 4”-5″ above the ground) as shown below.

Cutting Dahlia stems.

Discard the plant by placing them in a yard waste bag or in your backyard compost. For the flowers that are still blooming, cut them and place them in a vase to enjoy indoors or consider preserving them in silica drying crystals for later crafting as we’ve done here in one of our Facebook Live videos.

Woman holding Dahlia plants.
“mama dahlia”

With a shovel, dig around the dahlia roots giving yourself plenty of clearance to not damage any bulbs. 

Woman digging Dahlia bulbs from the ground.

Gently lift up the soil along with the dahlia bulbs in your hands. This one large dahlia tuber produced twenty smaller tubers this season! How incredible is that?

Woman lifting Dahlia flower bulbs from the dirt.

Gently shake off the excess dirt and place the dahlia bulbs in a dry space to dry such as under the edge of the deck or against the house. This will allow them to dry further with the sun while staying dry and out of the the rain.

Dahlia bulbs places alongside the edge of a house.
  • TIP: Take note of the size and color of the dahlias when saving the tubers and then sort them accordingly to know how and where to plant them in the Spring.

How to store the dahlia bulbs?

After 2 weeks of drying time, gently break apart any dirt between the bulbs and roots. Inspect the dahlia bulbs for damaged, cut or rotting bulbs and remove and throw away any that are damaged. Otherwise, the damaged bulbs will infect the healthy bulbs while in storage over the Winter months.

Pack the dahlia bulbs upside down (with the stem side down and root side up) in a dry cardboard box.

Continue packing the dahlia tubers inside the box (or boxes) as shown.

Dahlia bulbs placed in a cardboard box.

Once all the dahlia bulbs are inside the box, cover them with newspaper, peat moss or wood shavings to keep them warm and protected.

Covering the Dahlia bulbs with wood shavings.

Lastly, label the box with the size and color of the dahlia and store the box in a dry cool place such as an insulated garage or basement seller room until Spring.

Blooming Dahlia flowers.

When to plant dahlia tubers?

Dahlia tubers can be removed from storage and planted in the ground in mid to late Spring depending on the weather in your area. You will likely find some of the tubers will have already begun to sprout.

Dig holes 4″-6″ deep and place two to three tubers inside the hole with the root side down. The first two weeks after planting, give the tubers plenty of water to encourage the plant to sprout further.

Happy gardening, friends!

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Collage of blooming Dahlia flowers and bulbs.
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How to Save Dahlia Bulbs for Next Year

Sharing the step by step tutorial for saving dahlia bulbs for next year.
Keyword dahlias, garden
Author Jane and Sonja

Instructions

  • Remove dahlia bulbs aka tubers from the ground before the first frost.
  • Using gardening shears, cut the dahlia stems close to the ground (about 4” above).
  • Discard the plant.
  • With a shovel, dig around the dahlia roots giving yourself plenty of clearance to not damage any bulbs.
  • Gently lift up the soil along with the dahlia bulbs.
  • Gently shake off the excess dirt and place the dahlia bulbs with dirt in a protected space to dr such as under the edge of the deck or against the house.
  • If you have plenty of assorted dahlias, sort them by size and color and keep note of which is which.
  • After 2 weeks, gently break apart the dirt in between the bulbs and roots.
  • Inspect the dahlia bulbs for damaged, cut or rotting bulbs. Remove any that are damaged and throw away.
  • Pack the dahlia bulbs upside down (with the stem side down and root side up) in a dry cardboard box.
  • Cover the dahlia bulbs with newspaper, peat moss or wood shavings.
  • Label the box with the size and color of the dahlias.
  • Store the box in a dry cool place such as an insulated garage, seller room until Spring.
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