Desperate!!! Need advice about digging dahlia

siichan(6)October 28, 2011

So I just learned that we're getting 6" of snow tomorrow. I was so devastated because we don't usually get snow until late November. My dahlias are still blooming beautifully out there, I planned to shear them early November, leave them in the ground for 2 weeks, and dig them up. Now the weather forecast drives me crazy! We didn't even get first frost yet. I don't know what to do. This is my first time saving dahlia tubers, so I need your advice. Do I dig them up now? Do I leave them? They're still full of flowers, so will digging them now hurt them? Any tips? Thank you!!

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MommaCarp(5)

I think that a snowfall would pretty much be the same as a frost to a dahlia. As long as the ground doesn't freeze and damage the tubers (which it shouldn't for quite awhile yet), you can still dig and store them as you normally would. I would cut them down after the snow, leave them for a week or two, and divide and store them as usual. You might want to cut as many flowers as you can to enjoy before the snow comes and puts an end to your dahlia season, though.
I'd also like to say I have only been planting dahlias for a couple years, so if any of the more experienced and knowledgable folks have better info, I defer to them!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 9:58AM
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siichan(6)

Thanks MommaCarp. The problem is, I wouldn't know if the ground is going to freeze with the snow or not. So if I cut them down after the snow, I'm afraid I would be too late. Or would the snow actually act as insulation? Or should I just dig them up today?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 10:12AM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

The ground will not freeze right away. Check your forecast...what is the weather supposed to be in a couple of days? If you normally don't get cold weather until the end of November, you probably won't get frozen ground until then.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 12:29PM
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siichan(6)

According to the forecast, our high is 40F, and low is 28F for tomorrow. Same with Sunday. On monday, the low is finally going to be above freezing.

What do you think? Will it be enough to damage the tubers?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 12:56PM
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teddahlia

Dahlias in the ground can be dug in the snow. But realistically, if this is an early snow, it will melt.
I would start digging very soon, however. It is not so much that the tubers will freeze but that you cannot push the shovel though the frozen couple of inches of soil above the clumps. Dahlias will freeze and be lost if the ground freezes about 6 inches deep. I started digging a few weeks ago and will be done before the ground freezes here.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 1:02PM
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siichan(6)

Alright, I'll try to dig the dahlias tonight. Thanks a lot for the advice, everyone!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 2:20PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

siichan- Put...the shovel...down. It will be a while before your ground is frozen even 2 inches down. Let the snow kill them off, let them sit for 10 to 14 days and then dig them. Unless your temps drop into the low teens...for a couple of days straight, the ambient heat of the soil will not let the ground freeze very deep.

tj

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:03PM
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siichan(6)

Eeeeeeeeekkkkk!! Oh no, I just dug them up! :((

sigh... Oh well, next time I'll remember not to be so quick with the shovel...

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 8:18PM
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teddahlia

When I start digging about October 15th each year, the temperature is in the 60s. The tubers dug this early do just as well in storage as the ones dug later. Here we do not have killing frosts until mid November and waiting for a frost means digging in cold wet, weather. I am not into that. Many of you want to savor your last blooms before the frost and I can relate to that. But that means you will be digging in cold conditions.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 12:02PM
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