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Do I really need to dig up my Dahlia Tubers?

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Seed to Stem Kinglake Farm Flowers

Sustainable Flowers

The internet and social media is loaded with pictures and stories of flower farmers diligently digging up their tubers, dividing and storing them every year at the end of Autumn. But do you really need to ? and if you do when is the best time?

Firstly lets explore the reasons why you might want to dig up your tubers.

  1. You want more dahlia's; the cheapest way to expand the number of dahlias you have in your garden is to divide your dahlia tubers each year.

  2. Your garden has poor drainage and tends to get very wet each winter, (or less likely in Australia but your ground freezes each winter); Dahlia tubers will rot if the ground they are in becomes flooded for any length of time.

  3. You've noticed your dahlias are not has healthy as they have been in the past; like all of us we get a little tired, dividing your dahlia tubers and discarding older ones will keep your dahlia's vigorous and healthy.

  4. You want to earn some extra income; Selling Dahlia tubers can be a profitable side income stream. A single Dahlia tuber can sell for $10 - $25 each.

If none of the above are applicable to you then save yourself from some labour and leave your tubers in the ground this season.

What do we do at Seed to Stem?

Firstly we have thousands of dahlia tubers so not digging up dahlia tubers is not an option. Our strategy is as follows;

  1. We leave about 1/3 of the tubers in the ground.

  2. We have a few areas around the farm flower gardens which are prone to flooding so we always did these areas up and store before winter.

  3. The remaining tubers are dug up early Spring.

  4. The tubers we wish to propagate are divided during Spring.

Why do you dig tubers up in Spring rather than Autumn?

The benefits of leaving your tubers in the ground over winter are many. Firstly;

  • Limit storage issues. If only have a few tubers this is not an issue, if you have a lot more you have to be careful the tubers are stored in a clean safe environment to avoid loss through rot and rodents.

  • The soil is better able to retain nutrients if left undisturbed over winter, weed management is generally easier and the microbiome will thrive.

  • It's much easier to dig up, divide and replant all in one go.

Below is a look at one of our dahlia patches late August.

Remember whenever you dig up your dahlia tubers its hard work! no doubt about it. But if you can limit the amount of any associated extra work, I'm for that!

If you enjoyed this blog post please share it. If you are interested in buying dahlia tubers check out our store.

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