Dahlias are some of the most beautiful and diverse flowers that you can grow in your garden. Dahlias come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They continually bloom as you cut from them, and they bloom from mid-summer all the way through frost. Dahlias are a Mexico native, where they are perennials. Though, as growers love to plant them in colder climates, the dahlia becomes a beloved annual.
Many growers dig their dahlias after the first frost and store the dahlias over winter to prevent them from freezing or rotting. Though, when you have hundreds and thousands of dahlia tubers, that becomes quite the chore each year. You have to dig them all quickly, store them and keep them organized as not to mix up your varieties, in late winter/ early spring you need to clean and divide them (if you are trying to multiply your dahlia stock), prep the ground for planting, then plant them. Once planted, they require some babying- dahlias require regular feedings, weedings, and protection from bugs like slugs and earwigs. So if any of these large chores can be minimized it is quite efficient to do so!
Here on the Jersey Shore, we are zone 6B/7A and we could get away with perennializing our dahlias with some extreme protection during the winter months. As you can read here from Love ‘N Fresh Flowers, Jennie Love talks about her process to keep dahlias protected during harsh winter weather as a perennial flower.
This year, since I really want to develop a stash of tubers, we are going to dig and divide our dahlia tubers after our first frost. Once all of the leaves brown we’ll be good to dig them out of the ground and store until late Winter/ early Spring. Then, once the last frost of the year strikes we’ll have the all clear to put our dahlias in the ground. If we had some sort of protection (such as frost cloth or a green/hoop house) we could plant our dahlias earlier to get a jump on the season. But, we’re happy blooming where we’re planted at the moment.