How to Winterize Dahlia Tubers


Dahlias are native to Mexico where they were discovered by Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist, according to Iowa State University Extension. Although the first dahlias were likely a single row of petals, or florets, with a yellow center, The American Dahlia Society recognizes 20 forms of dahlias, each sporting specific bloom types. Bloom size ranges from the tiny 2-inch pompom to massive 16-inch dinner plate varieties. With 15 official colors, dahlia blooms include traditional white, pink and red as well as bronze. Winterizing dahlias includes lifting and storing the underground tubers.

Step 1

Cut dahlia foliage back to 3 to 4 inches from the ground level once they are killed by frost in the fall. Tag the plants to identify the color and variety.

Step 2

Dig beneath the dahlia tubers with a spade or garden fork. Dahlia roots spread to a wide area. Use care not to injure roots or damage the tubers when digging.

Step 3

Lift the tubers free of the soil. Shake to remove excess soil. Place dahlia tubers upside down in a shaded area to allow the stem to drain and soil to dry.

Step 4

Remove dried soil by shaking or brushing the tubers with a soft brush. Although tubers can be washed, it is not necessary. If you wash the tubers, allow them to dry before storing.

Step 5

Pour a 3- to 4-inch layer of peat moss or vermiculite into the bottom of a wooden crate or storage box. Layer the tubers over the peat moss. Cover with a 3- to 4-inch layer of peat moss.

Step 6

Store in a cool area with temperatures between 40 and 55 F. Check the tubers once a month for signs of shriveling. If tubers begin to shrivel, moisten the peat moss. Avoid overwatering, as too much moisture invites disease.

Step 7

Remove tubers in late spring and plant in a sunny location after the danger of frost has passed in your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade or fork Wooden crate Peat moss or vermiculite


  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Dahlias
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Growing Dahlias
  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Dahlias
  • The American Dahlia Society: ADS Classification & Handbook of Dahlias
  • Washington State University Skagit County Extension: Dahlia Planting Tips
Keywords: winterize dahlia, dig dahlia bulbs, lift dahlia bulbs, store dahlia bulbs

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.