Dig Those Dahlias
Dahlias must be dug before the first frost, so October is a good time to begin.
After cutting the stalk to within a foot or so of the ground, use a pitchfork to carefully lift each clump. Be sure to keep the name label with each clump. Hose the dirt off and let this bundle of tubers dry in a shaded spot.
The next day the tubers can be divided. Examine the bulging tubers, looking for a raised bump at the end which joins the stem. This is the eye, and each tuber that has an eye is cut from the clump. Tubers that do not have eyes are left attached to ones that do. These are the food storage tubers. Wash the tubers off again and leave to dry for a few hours or overnight in a shady place.
Label each tuber with its name and colour and pack into vermiculite or peat moss in plastic bags. A plastic label with a wire tie seems to work best. Be sure to use indelible ink for your labels. Prick a few holes in the bags to allow moisture to escape. Store at 40 to 45 degrees.
Checking each bag once a month or so will often save a whole batch from spoiling if the damaged or rotting tubers are removed.
Prepare your dahlia bed for next spring by adding lots of organic matter; compost, manure, peat moss, etc. If your soil is heavy, add some sand; if acid, add lime. Dahlias thrive in a neutral soil.
Now that the dahlias are safe for the winter, you can plan, dream and anticipate that final frost in April when your new tubers will come to life.
©Sharron R. McMillan