Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Time for a Winter Check on Your Dahlia Tubers

A healthy dahlia tuber, undivided,
after several months of storage
Your dahlia tubers, carefully dug and probably divided last fall after blooming splendidly in your gardens last summer, are enjoying their long winter's nap.

There's a host of such dahlia bulbs (sometimes referred to as dahlia roots, and correctly, dahlia tubers) at rest in the warehouse at Lynch Creek Farm. Right now, they're being sorted, checked over, and identified for packaging to await the shipping season. Things aren't altogether quiet in the dahlia department at the farm.

Ryan LeDoux packages dahlia
tubers in anticipation of the
coming shipping season.
But at home this time of year, it's easy to forget about your dahlia tubers. How long since you've checked up on them?  Made sure conditions are right for them? Storage temperatures should range between 40° and 50° Fahrenheit (4° to 10° Celsius). Humidity should be about 90 percent.

It's essential that you inspect your tubers regularly to be certain they are weathering their winter storage well. If you haven't looked at them for a month or two, check up on them now.
A swallowtail butterfly enjoys
a formal decorative dahlia at
Lynch Creek Farm.

If the tubers have begun to shrivel, mist them with a fine spray of clean water or immerse them in a bucket of cool water for a few hours. Make sure they are completely dry outside before returning them to the storage medium you're using. Then occasionally mist the area lightly to increase the humidity.

If, on the other hand, the tubers are limp or show signs of mold or rot, isolate them. Get rid of any that are soft; if there's only a small suspicious area, cut it away and keep the tuber isolated from the other, healthy ones. Decrease the temperature and humidity of your storage area. It may be necessary to use a pot of dessicant to reduce the humidity. If the area is too warm you may need to remove the tubers to a cooler area.

The whole point of taking care now is to have beautiful dahlias this summer. Want more flowers? Go to the Lynch Creek Farm website for a look at the beautiful options on sale now for shipping later when the weather's right. Want a chance at free dahlias? Visit the farm's Facebook page and "like" Lynch Creek Farm.  

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