Caring for Dahlias in the Colder Months

Dahlias get fussed over a lot, whether they need it or not, because of the way they swan around, their enormous blooms nodding at you from elongated Audrey Hepburn necks. But are how do you keep them thriving, especially when temperatures drop? Read below for a few tips gleaned by Michelle, editor of Gardenista.

Above: In mild climates such as the San Francisco Bay Area, dahlia tubers can stay in the ground year round. In colder climates, dig up your dahlia tubers before the first hard freeze.

Above: The first step is to cut down the stalks, to a height of two or three inches. Photograph by Gardeners Supply via Flickr.

Above: Dig up a whole clump of tubers at a time and be gentle; the tubers are fragile and break apart easily. You can store the dirt-covered clump in a bucket in the basement or, if you plan to divide your dahlias, rinse the tubers before working on them.

Above: Look for tubers with “eyes,” swollen buds that indicate the plant has plans to bloom next year. When you divide dahlias, make sure each division has an “eye.” A healthy division will spawn its own clump of tubers after you plant it next year. Photograph via SC Dahlias.

Above: To cut apart and slice tubers, you can use a knife, scissors, or pruners, depending on the size of the cut. A pair of Felco No. 8 Pruners, a precision tool good for separating a nest of tubers at the base (the blades will make cuts as big as 1 inch), is $47.99 at The Felco Store. Photograph by F.D. Richards via Flickr.

Above: Return bulbs to the garden in late spring, after the last frost date. Hollyhill Chloe, one of 500 different clumps of dahlias at Golden Gate Park’s Dahlia Dell, will grow to a height of five feet, with blooms as big as eight inches in diameter. It’s $7 from Corralitos Gardens. Dahlias like heat, dry feet, and lots of sun. A red and white Skipley Spot dahlia is $7 from Clearview Dahlias.

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Dave C.
David C5 years ago

dahlias are beautiful....thanks, but we don't even try to grow in MN.....

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Good information, especially the dividing bit. Thanks.

Samir Nassir
Past Member 5 years ago

I hope to be I have to deal with these plants.thanks so much for this article .

Monica D.
Monica D5 years ago

Thank you for these helpful tips.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson5 years ago

Yesterday on Cisco's radio program, here in the Pacific Northwest, USA...he was saying he leaves his in the ground, but covers them with fern fronds, so that they donot drown and rot in all of our rain (though we just experienced the 2nd driest 2 months on record, except 2088 was longer)....if you do not have time to digup or a place to store, try this! might work for you!

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage s5 years ago


Past Member
Christine W5 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Suzanne L.
Suzanne L5 years ago

I love dahlias. They come in so many colours and really pack a punch in the garden. In the spring I have to cover the newly-planted tubers with a grate or the squirrels will dig them up and feast on them.