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Archive for the ‘Dahlia Care’ Category

Helpful Tips for Dahlia Care in Winter

Posted on: November 20th, 2015 by Aimee Sherrill

We hope everyone had a great growing season and your dahlias gave you armloads of blooms all season.  For most parts of the country, we have reached the time of year where it’s time to dig and store your dahlias for winter.  The calendar says we are still in the fall season, but winter conditions will hit hard over the last couple weeks.  In areas of freezing winters, dahlias typically will not survive frozen soils or soggy soils.  To protect your dahlias, it’s best to dig in the fall and store for winter.

If you’ve had a freeze, it’s time to dig :

Wait until your dahlia foliage looks like this before digging in the fall

Wait until your dahlia foliage looks like this before digging in the fall

The challenges with dahlias is that they need to feel a freeze in order to properly end the season and cure their tubers. When we let our dahlias freeze in the fall, that tells the plant, “OK, it’s time to go to sleep for the winter.”  Then the stalks turn black, the energy is returned to the tubers and the tuber skins begin to thicken as the tubers are preparing themselves for winter.  If you haven’t had a freeze, you’re safe to dig by the middle of November. They have felt enough cold now and the skins of the tubers have thickened.  Dig your clump out of the ground with a shovel or a pitchfork.  Lift the clump out of the soil and tap the dirt off, most of the dirt will fall off.  If it’s still clumped on the tuber, set aside for a few days to let dry, then tap again to remove most of the soil.  If there still is some soil remaining on the tuber clump, that is OK.  It will provide the clump with some moisture and humidity for storage.

We always advise to NOT RINSE your tubers with a spray hose, just tap the dirt off.  We see many websites that say to rinse your tubers and we do not agree.  Rinsing makes it incredibly difficult to get them dry enough for winter storage, which is a key factor in getting your dahlias to survive winter storage.  If they are wet, they will rot !  And there is no saving a rotten tuber.

We’ve just completed our harvest and are happy to report it was outstanding this year.  We were lucky enough to miss the weather.  Above you will see the flooded garden picture, we received massive rains just a few days after we finished digging.

Winter Dahlia Storage

There are many different ways to store your dahlias.

The most important tips are:

  1. Make sure they freeze in the garden and the stalks turn black before they are dug up.  During this time, the skins are thickening and they are preparing themselves for winter.  Dahlias dug too early typically will not store over winter.

  2. Once dug up, make sure they never freeze wherever they are stored.  An attached garage is usually pretty safe.  Unheated outbuildings typically will freeze and wouldn’t be a good choice for storage.

  3. Make sure they are dry before they go into storage.

 Storage options are:

  1. Store in clump form or divided loose in paper bags or cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.

  2. Cardboard box lined with newspaper, add a layer of peat moss, add a layer of dahlias, another layer of peat moss, etc until the box is full.  This can give you an added layer of protection from freezing and keeps humidity higher.

Keep the temperature at 40-50 degrees at all times during winter storage. The humidity should be kept medium-high to keep tubers from drying and shriveling. Check your tubers monthly during winter storage.  See our ‘Dahlia Care’ page for more detailed information.

Dividing Dahlias

We recommend that you divide your dahlia tubers at some point during the winter.  Here is a helpful video created by us to help you with dividing your dahlias:

15% off Sale – Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday.  The entire website will be 15% off.  We rarely ever have sales, this will be the only one of the entire year !!

We hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.  We leave you with a few of our favorite pictures from our 2015 farming season !

5 Dahlia Care Tips for August

Posted on: August 15th, 2015 by Aimee Sherrill

     Now that late summer is upon us, there are certain things we can do right now with our dahlias to insure our dahlias keep blooming well into the fall.  Dahlias are actually a fall flower in most areas of the country, especially the north, and are blooming in the gardens when all other plants have finished their bloom.  Our prime season in Washington State is actually September.  Here are a few tips for a successful garden:


 1-Don’t Fertilize anymore this seasonyour dahlias will not have time to absorb the fertilizer.  You want them to absorb the

If your dahlias are planted in rows, 2 stakes at the end of each row works great.

If your dahlias are planted in rows, 2 stakes at the end of each row works great.

fertilizer that is already in the ground and prepare themselves for winter.


 2-Water Water Water – Fertilizer makes foliage and water makes blooms.  It’s hard to ‘overwater’ them when they are at this late summer stage.  A deep soaking 2-3 times per week will keep them blooming well into fall.  Be sure that you are soaking the ground long enough so that the water is reaching the tubers.  We find a 1 hour soak with a soaker hose is the most effective.  Hand watering is never enough.


3-Stake for fall rains – Especially for dinnerplate dahlias.  The blooms are so large and when they capture water, the weight can be too much and they can bend, break and topple over.  Place your stake about 1 foot away from the dahlia stalk.  Giving that space will insure that you don’t damage the tuber clump underground.


4-Weed management – Keep the weeds down so they aren’t competing with your dahlias for water and nutrients.


5-Cut the flowers – cut them, the more you cut them the more they will bloom.  And cut long stems !!  Our advice is to cut nothing shorter than from your elbow to the tips of your fingers, even if it means taking the side buds.  Those side buds most times, do not make good cut flowers and are weaker than the center flowers.  Cutting down on the plant will promote more growth and more blooms.  Dahlias are work horses !!

   So get out there and cut your flowers !!  Enjoy these beauties and the fruits of your labor while we are still in season !!  Winter will come soon enough !!  See more dahlia care information on our ‘Dahlia Care‘ page on our website.  Also see our ‘Online Catalog’ and shop for tubers for the 2016 season !  We have some varieties that are extremely limited this year and will only be available through October/November.

   We’ve got a full line of Astilbe, Begonia, Daylily, Gladiolus, Hosta and Miscellaneous Perennials such as Peony and Phlox.

Dividing Dahlias

Posted on: January 17th, 2015 by Aimee Sherrill

      If you dug and stored your dahlias in the fall, now is the time to check on them to see how they are fairing the winter season.    However you have them stored, pull out your dahlia clumps and see how they are doing. If you have clumps that are rotted, it’s probably time to start shopping for some new dahlia tubers for spring.  Dahlias will only sprout from swollen part that is attached to last years stem, if that is rotten, the tuber will not sprout.    If they are shriveled, the humidity is low in the area they are in.  You can try to spritz them with water or place some newspaper in the bottom of your storage box to absorb some humidity and release it to the clumps.  The best thing in this case, is to leave the clump intact and don’t divide until it gets closer to planting time.  That will hold all the available moisture in the clump for now.

     If you have plump, healthy tuber clumps, you can divide them now or wait until planting time gets closer for dividing.  After dividing your dahlias, you want to let them sit out in the cool air for their fresh cuts to dry before putting back away into storage.

     When you are ready to divide your tubers for spring, here is a helpful video from Dahlia Barn owner, Jerry Sherrill, on how to correctly divide your tuber clumps.

     Now that spring is on the way, we’ll be blogging more with great information on growing dahlias.  Check out our ‘Dahlia Care’ page for more information.  Upcoming blog posts will include tips on soil health, plant health, planting dahlias as well as discussing the other perennials we have to offer here at The Dahlia Barn.  We carry a wide range of perennials including Astilbe, Begonias, Daylily, Gladiolus, Hosta and Phlox.  Our Begonias are not your typical big box store begonias.  Ours are tall, big begonias that bloom for weeks and weeks in the summertime.  They are a lot of bloom for your buck and well worth it !

Dahlia Care for an early winter

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by Aimee Sherrill

The calendar says we are still in the fall season, but winter conditions have hit hard and fast over the last couple weeks across the United States, catching a lot of dahlia gardeners off guard.  In some parts of the country, it went from an Indian Summer to winter snows in what seemed to be overnight.

Wait until your dahlia foliage looks like this before digging in the fall

Wait until your dahlia foliage looks like this before digging in the fall

The challenges with dahlias is that they need to feel a few freezes in order to properly end the season and cure their tubers. When we let our dahlias freeze in the fall, that tells the plant, “OK, it’s time to go to sleep for the winter.”  Then the stalks turn black, the energy is returned to the tubers and the tuber skins begin to thicken as the tubers are preparing themselves for winter.  It’s risky to dig your dahlias before a freeze. Dahlias dug too early have thin skins and typically do not survive the winter. They may look alright now, but usually by spring, they have shriveled to an unusable tuber. Dahlias are a plant of patience and need their time to do what they do in order for them to survive winter.

But what if the cold weather hit too soon and now your dahlias are buried in snow ?  Well, that is the unfortunate part of Mother Nature. You never know what she will send your way.  If you are buried in snow right now, chances are Mother Nature has beaten you this year.  It’s time to plan on ordering some new dahlia tubers for the spring.  If you didn’t get any snow, but your soil is frozen, wait until the soil has thawed so that it can be somewhat worked, dig up your clumps and see what you’ve got.  If they look dark brown and have a ‘clear’ look to them, they are frozen and should be composted.  If you see a more fleshy whiter tuber, it may have survived the deep freeze.

The benefits of mounding your soil

Just like we plant potatoes in mounds, dahlias benefit greatly from being in mounds as well.  This will accomplish a few things:

1)  When you dig in the fall, if you’re having a rainy fall the dahlias will be up and out of the wet mucky soil.

2)  If the temperatures fall drastically like they did this year, the top few inches of soil will be frozen.  But if you dig down, you’ll find the dahlias are in unfrozen soil.  As long as you can remove the crust on top of the mound, your dahlias should be fine.

3)  Mounding your soil will provide better drainage and warmer soil temperatures than dahlias planted down in the soil.

Mounded Rows

Mounded Rows

4)  There tends to be less breakage with dahlias planted in mounds than there is with dahlias that need to be pulled up from 4″-6″ deep down in the ground.

How to start a mounded row:

What we do is start with a straight line and place the dahlias eye up about 10″-12″ apart.  Then we rake over about 2″ of soil.  As the dahlia continues to grow, we continue to pull soil onto the mound.  By the time the dahlias are about 18″ tall and with continued mounding every 10-14 days, what you should have is your dahlias down to a depth of 5″-6″.

Even The Dahlia Barn is challenged by Mother Nature:

Even we have been affected by the sudden change in temperatures this year.  Our Western Washington farm has a fairly mild climate being close to Seattle, we have completed the harvest here.  Our Eastern Washington farm in Thorp is subject to drastic temperature changes.  We found it to be an extremely late season for digging, but we need to let them freeze.  We were cutting flowers on November 7th and we were frozen solid on November 15th.  We have incurred some loss, but because our dahlia fields are mounded, we have some protection from the freezing soil on top of the mound, because the dahlia tubers are below the freezing soil.  What we’ve had to do is wait until last week to dig.  It’s been challenging, but we know that the dahlias have cured their skins and have prepared themselves for winter.  We’ll lose some, but we are looking forward to adding new varieties for next season too.   2014 has been a challenging weather year for us in many ways.  A hot summer, combined with an early full moon freeze on September 12th, now a late freeze.  The 2014 season will be one we will be happy to say ‘so long’ too.  Here’s to better farming weather in 2015!

Check out our ‘Dahlia Care‘ page for great information on growing dahlias!  Our next blog will be all about dividing your dahlia tubers!