I stored some of my dahlias over the winter. I chose the ones I wanted to ensure survived the winter, and it’s now time to wake them up from their rest.
This is a pretty straightforward process.
I first checked the tubers for any rot, there was none, they seem to have appreciated being left in vermiculite. Last year I lost a few smallish chunks of tuber to rot, they were in damp compost over the winter.
In theory, I could just plant them straight out into the garden, in which case I might have left the tubers in storage till late April. Aside from wanting to take cuttings, another reason to avoid planting straight out is that Mr Slug is very partial to a fresh dahlia stem. It’s easier to manage Mr Slug in a greenhouse or similarly sheltered environment, so into pots they go.
Where possible I used 3L pots, although some of the older tubers are pretty huge, I used buckets for those.
Step 1 – add a layer of compost, an inch or two deep, enough to support the tuber.
Step 2 – pop tuber in pot
Step 3 – backfill the pot, gradually tucking the compost in around the dangly bits of tuber.
Do not cover the whole tuber, leave the tops showing. One reason for doing this is to make the new stems more accessible for taking cuttings. I found to my cost last year that burying them makes it harder to take a clean cutting.
Step 4 – water the pot, dampening the compost
Step 5 – stash somewhere sheltered, mine are on the bottom shelf of staging in my unheated greenhouse.
The compost should be kept moist but not sodden – the tubers don’t want to be sitting in a big puddle. If I remember rightly from last year, it was two or three weeks before new growth began to emerge.
I may have missed a trick in following this process, I think I could have divided some of the larger tubers to get more plants. If I have a chance at the weekend, I might dis-inter one and give it a bash.
I will plant them out in the garden once the risk of frost has passed, after a suitable period of hardening off.
I’ll be back soon with more gardening gubbins.