How to overwinter dahlia bulbs

How To Overwinter Dahlias

How to overwinter dahlia bulbs

Our yard was overflowing with dahlias this past spring and summer. We bought them up in droves and planted them all over our front yard to add a splash of color between our boxwoods, Japanese yew and Knockout roses. And instead of just pulling them out and getting rid of them for the winter, we’re going to try to overwinter our dahlias.

We’ve heard from several people that it may be possible to salvage the dahlia bulbs for next spring. So, after a little research, we thought we might as well conduct an experiment to see if we can successfully overwinter dahlias…

We’re trying two different methods with our dahlia bulbs. The first: leaving them in the ground and mounding soil and mulch on top of them, and the second: digging them up and keeping them in a container of soil in our garage.

Both of these methods are pretty easy; they just require setting aside a few hours of gardening time.

Winter gardening supplies

To prep our dahlias for overwintering, I started by pruning off all of the dead foliage and leaves, and then cutting the stems down as far as possible, without accidentally pulling out any of the bulbs.

Oh, and I realize that showing pictures of frost-stricken, decaying plants pretty much goes against every blog photography “rule”, but such is the nature of gardening (wink). Cutting down plants that are still blooming just feels so wrong! I don’t feel so bad cutting them back after the frost has gotten to them!

And in case you’re curious, dahlia bulbs kind of look like clusters of garlic:

Dahlia bulb clusters

Mine were planted somewhat close to the surface, so for the clusters that I’m leaving in the ground, I made sure to gather up a good amount of soil and mulch to build a small mound on top of each bulb cluster:

Mound mulch and soil on top of bulbs for overwintering.

That light stem you see sticking up is the main stem of the plant.

For the second method, I prepped a planting container with a layer of soil, then added a cluster of bulbs and covered it with soil:

Dahlia bulbs overwintering in soil.

I stashed the container in our garage, where the bulbs will be kept cool and dark. I considered bringing the container into our basement, but our basement is surprisingly warm in the winter, and I don’t want the bulbs to start growing too soon.

I am little nervous that if we have a very cold, very snowy winter, my outside bulbs won’t make it. But I guess that’s the whole point of this experiment, right? Winters in SW Ohio are usually somewhat mild, so hopefully the bulbs will be okay.

So, stay tuned until Spring 2015! Here’s hoping at least one of my methods will work!

Do you overwinter your outdoor plants and flowers What method works best for you?


2 thoughts on “How To Overwinter Dahlias

  1. Brooke

    I love Dahlias and would love to keep mine for next spring. Did yours make it through the winter? Thinking of trying your ideas on mine.

    1. Two Purple Couches Post author

      Hi Brooke! Mine did not make it through the winter. We had a much colder, snowier winter than we usually do, and I think the ground was just too frozen for the bulbs to survive. I had some other bulbs not come back that usually do just fine over-wintering in the ground. If you try it, I hope you have better success than I did!

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