East Coast Dahlias..anyone leave in the ground?

portia(PA 6B, Brandywine)April 14, 2014

I'm new to dahlias, not new to gardening... I know here in the colder zones that it's typical to dig up the dahlias and store them over the winter.

But surfing through the forums yesterday I saw a post from a gal who I believe is in zone 6 and leaves hers in the ground, deeply planted vs digging them up. She said she loses a few here and there but that they also seem to multiply like crazy in the ground so it more than makes up for any losses. (It was a fertilizing thread, not a dahlia post so it was a lone comment)

This intrigues me because I would, of course, like to not have to overwinter. So, anyone else do that? If so, what do you do, how deep do you plant, do you mulch like crazy on top, etc. And if so, what are your typical results? Thanks!

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All of the dahlias that I left in the ground last winter were damaged by the cold and rotted even with large leaf bags on top of them. This winter had been brutal. In the last two winters before this one, I was able to overwinter the dahlias in the ground with no problems. It depends on the winter whether the bulbs will survive or not.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:22PM
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Most of my Dahlias survived this winter in the ground , which is surprising me because winter this year was very cold. Of course, I have lost some of them, but not as many as I have expected. Last year in October 28 after the first frozen night I decided to cover them with pine straws .

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:53PM
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portia(PA 6B, Brandywine)

Makes sense that they might be fine if the winter is not severe, but of course you don't know that til it's potentially too late. Food for thought!

If I can keep them all in one bed it would be easier for digging them all up at once vs interspersing amongst other plants. Right now I am currently trying to eye them up on a damp bed of soil in a super sunny guest room.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:26AM
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steve22802(7a VA)

I have managed to overwinter dahlias several times and I've come up with a method that seems to work pretty well. There are two main things that dahlias don't like when they are dormant: freezing and sitting in soggy soil. So here's the method I use to deal with these two issues:

1. Plant the dahlias in raised beds of some sort so that the clump will not sit in water over the winter.

2. Cover the bed in the fall with a thick layer of dried organic material (leaves, pine needles, planer shavings, etc.) for insulation.

3. Cover the insulating material with clear plastic. This will shed water off of the insulating material (wet materials have poor insulating value) and off the tubers. The clear plastic allows the sun to shine through periodically throughout the winter to help keep the mound thawed.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:21PM
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portia(PA 6B, Brandywine)

Thanks for the info Steve...how did your dahlias fare this last winter?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:19PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

It's still a little early to tell but I've seen a few sprouts appearing so I know that some of my outdoor clumps survived this past winter. This was one of the coldest winters here in recent memory with a low of -4F. Most winters we rarely dip much below 10F. The plastic I was using to shed water off the bed was old and started breaking up part way through the winter which was not so good.

I also tried a different method with a bunch of spare clumps that I didn't really care about. I dug the clumps whole, labeled them and then just tossed them all in a mound on a slight slope. Then I piled dirt over them and covered with sheet plastic. I've seen some sprouts coming out of the mound this past week.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:54PM
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