Overwintering Dahlias IN GROUND

flowerobsessionJanuary 29, 2009

Anyone ever try overwintering Dahlias in the ground? I am in Southern WI/Zone 5.

Not this winter but the last, when one of my Dahlias frosted and wilted,the hubby piled leaves on it and never went back to clean the leaf pile up. In the spring when I cleaned the pile up I didnt think much of it but later, the plant came up! I was shocked. Did I just get unbelievably lucky or is there something to doing this (instead of digging them up)?

I actually dug the tubers up this past fall because I was afraid I *just got lucky* but has anyone experimented with doing something like this? I know I have PLENTY of leaves that I could pile on if it could work.

Your thoughts?

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Poochella(7 WA)

zone 5- you're best advised to dig them up. Perhaps last year you had a mild winter, I don't know. Was the leaf-covered dahlia clump next to a house or warm building, or in the line of fire from a dryer or other warm vent?

If I leave them in the ground, they may survive any brief freezes, but the water/rainfall we get is what I think invariably leads to majority tuber rot. Much easier and safer to dig them each fall if you want to assure survival.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 10:04PM
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I am in a Zone 6, and I know that ours do not survive a ground freeze! A few years ago I planted Dahlias for the first time, and did not know they where not hardy! They all died. :-(

Now, there are a few things that may have caused your Dahlia to survive, perhaps a combination of a few...

MicroClimate: You may find a small protected spot that is sheltered from the elements of your particular zone. such as against a house, or under a dryer vent so it stays warmer, perhaps those few feet actually are able to stay entire zones warmer!!

Compost heat: It is possible that if your pile of leaves began the composting process, they started to generate heat! My mother lives in a zone 1 ! (Poor woman) Many neighbours keep Hostas and a few other Zone 3 plants by heaping barn straw (with some manure) on top of them to protect them for the winter. Now some years it does not work, but most years they have some success!

Perhaps you had a mild winter, and the benifit of the leaves, and perhaps a sheltered location stacked the odds in favour of that dahlia that year, but I would not count on it! At least not for all your tubers!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 11:10AM
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Every body is missing the real solution here. We have just discover a hardy dahlia that will over winter any where. We will be rich. Every list on the internet will want to trade with us.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 7:37PM
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I tried to pull all of my dahlia tubers last fall but was dismayed when I realized that I had dug down and chopped half of the tuber off from the main plant. I pulled the main plant with half of the tuber still attached and didn't think about pulling the other half. I didn't mean to leave the other half in so much as I just forgot to get it out of there. I do regularly cover all of my garden beds with chopped leaves so it had winter mulch. Now I live in Chicago and as some of you may recall we had a VERY cold winter this past year. We had several below 0 days, but also had almost constant snow cover. In any case I was completely surprised when I found that I had a dahlia regrowing from the ground this year in the exact same spot. Now it was in a spot close to the house and on the south facing side, but I am still amazed that it survived the harsh winter. Since it made it this past winter, I am planning on leaving it in the ground this year and see what happens. Perhaps it was just luck and it will not come back again, or maybe I have a a tough little plant here, either way, I will let you all know what happens next spring!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 4:18PM
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I live in St. Louis and I have found this spring multiple dahlias coming up where I didn't get the tubers pulled up last year. I have had success wintering over plants that are supposedly tender for here, but I was really shocked by the dahlias. I have a tendency to plant deep and my soil is well drained, so maybe this had something to do with it. All of that said, St. Louis doesn't seem to get nearly as cold as it used to. I don't remember the last time we were under 15 degrees. That is getting pretty close to zone 8.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:04PM
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Noni Morrison

For 20 years I have left my dahlias in the ground over winter. Normally, I do not loose more then 5 or 6. THis winter, I lost 100 out of my 130. I can not remember exactly what the weather was, except that it was quite cold for a couple of weeks from mid December. In November I was laid up for a month with Bronchial pnuemonia and had my foot in a walking cast. NO way I could have dug dahlias, but also, no way to predict that this would be the winter that killed my dahlias. We started out with a long warm fall that suddenly switched over to being really cold and staying frozen for about 2 weeks. I am only about 600 feet above sea level but on a shallow north facing slope. THe plants at the bottom of the garden never got even a ray of sun at that time of year. All my survivers were in the upper half of the garden and appeared to be quite random as to which survived and which did not. Totally unpredictable. I think I will at least dig and save out a tuber of my favorite ones, then perhaps bury and mulch the rest. I was heart broken this year to think I had lost Hillcrest Kismet, and all the mail order places were already sold out of it, but a couple of tubers looked like they might possibly have eyes. I lucked out have two live sprouts coming up. WHewww!

Even Swan Island lost a number of cultivers to these early freezes this year, before all their tubers were dug.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:36AM
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I left Dahlias in the ground last year. I wish I did not. HUGE mistake. I bought that Dahlia as 'Edge of Joy'. Probably, it was mislabeled because it was red+white, not purple+white. I've never had such a blooming machine! It was constantly covered with 50-80 flowers.

I lost it despite a thick layer of mulch and excellent drainage. Stupid experiment :(

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 5:05PM
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Nancy zone 6

I've had mine overwinter during mild years without mulching & in a protected area. It has been unintentional though, I always figured if I meant to do it they wouldn't survive.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 7:23PM
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I can leave dahlias in the ground here with good results. I always put a covering of aluminum foil over the stems and cover them with lots of grass clippings. Never more than 2 years in a row though, or it's impossible for me to dig them they get so heavy. I live on top of the old Boot Hill and I think its some sort of microclimate.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 10:23PM
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greensingh(z6b south jersey)

I have an in ground dahlia on the south side of the house. It is going on its third year.
This year it has been extra early and is almost foot and a half.
I have spare tubers for this one and last year did not even mulch it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 8:44AM
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I'm another person who had never had exceptionally bad luck leaving tubers in the ground over winter. This year was truly the exception. I didn't count how many plants I got no viable tubers from, but it was probably close to 80%. I also plant at my mother's place, and they had a success rate of about 90%! She doesn't live that far from me, but the difference was drainage. What went wrong (IMHO) last winter was that it was so wet. I'm not sure that freezing isn't less harmful to tubers than constant rain. Regardless, until the drainage issue is corrected (and we have a plan) I will be digging one of each variety.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 4:23PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

It's the torrents of rain that get them every year where I am. I left about 15 in the ground I didn't care for, duplicates, or bad plants, etc. Two came back which surprised me, because the others were all tattered stalks with nothing but fibrous mush underground, as they are most years. I didn't think our 2009 winter was bad at all, certainly warmer than most.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 9:34PM
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I have overwintered dahlias for at least 10 years. I plant them about a foot away from my south foundation wall. I didn't like one, so I left it in the ground and it has come back for the 10 years. I started leaving others in the ground near the south foundation and I hardly ever lose one. This is in Rochester where it gets down to 10degrees most winters and very little sunshine. I am between z5 and 6 because of Lake Ontario.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 8:45AM
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