Saving Dahlia Tubers

Saving Dahlia Tubers

If you grew Dahlias this summer you probably want to save the tubers for next year. That’s one of the joys of this annual flower…you can not only save them from year to year and add new colors to your collection, but you’ll have tubers to share with your friends. Here’s how to proceed.

1. Wait until the plants get wilted by a hard frost. If you want to know which plants are particular colors, write out a plastic label before the frost hits and place it by the stem of each plant. Once frost hits, cut the stems off and dig up the tubers, keeping the label with the tubers.

2. Lay the tubers on a tarp or newspapers in a garage or shed for a couple of weeks so that they dry out. Once the soil starts to dry, brush the excess off the tubers with a gloved hand or soft brush.

3. After the tubers are clean and dry, pack them up for storage. You can do this in a number of ways. Method one: put about four inches dry peat moss or potting soil in a paper bag, lay the tubers on top of that layer and then fill the bag with more peat or potting soil. Close the bag and put all the bags into a large cardboard box. Method two: wrap the tubers in sheets of newspapers and place each bundle in a paper bag. Put the bags into a box for storage.

4. Store the boxes in a place that’s cool but doesn’t go below freezing in the winter. Most unheated but attached garages are suitable on Cape Cod. In the spring after frost danger has passed unwrap the clumps of tubers and cut individual tubers off, making sure to include a piece of the area where the tuber joins the stem since that’s where most shoots originate. You will see new shoots on many of the tubers in the spring, so work carefully so you don’t break those off. Share the extras!

Dahlias are one of the "must have" flowers for cutting. Get a new color every year and you'll soon have a beautiful cutting garden.

Here are some dahlia tubers that are drying. Once they are dry the dirt will be brushed off and the tubers put into winter storage. Don't store them in plastic - the tubers are likely to mold or rot if stored without air circulation.


  1. Marilyn howard on May 10, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    I don’t want to plant my dahlias this summer. Can I save the tubers for next year?

    • CLFornari on May 11, 2019 at 1:05 am

      Marilyn – if you don’t plant them this year they will be shriveled, dry and dead next year. The only way to keep them viable for the future is to plant them (in pots or in the ground – doesn’t matter) this summer.

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