October 9th, 2012

When to Dig Dahlias

There was a hard frost last night that killed the dahlia tops. I’m going out of town and won’t have a chance to dig up the roots for at least a week. Is that too late to save them?

blog-dougFor the tuberous roots of dahlias to be damaged, the soil would have to freeze several inches deep — something that usually doesn’t happen until a month or two after the first frost. (In USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 and warmer, it may not happen at all.) So you can delay this task a few weeks without worry.

Here’s my technique for storing tender bulbs, including dahlias and cannas, through the winter. Caladiums, tuberous begonias, elephant ears, and gladiolus prefer a slightly warmer storage temperature of around 50°F.  —Doug Hall

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