Putting the Dahlias to Bed
We recently had our first freeze (and a little snow). This turns the Dahlias brown and mushy and is my indicator that it’s time to get them ready for winter. I start by cutting the stems back about 2″ from the ground. Then cover with a heap of magnolia leaves (any leaves will work). And follow with a folded up burlap sack to add insulation and keep the tubers from rotting.
This system works for me because we have moderate winters in Seattle and the burlap adds just enough insulation to keep the frost away (I’ve never been successful digging them up). This is an improvement from last year when I didn’t have the cages — when my chickens kicked around the burlap and leaves and left the dahlias exposed to the elements.
I’m really fond of the cages I put together using heavy duty fencing and 4′ t-bar stakes. They worked pretty well keeping the dahlias contained this summer AND they’ll help keep the dahlias covered all winter.
I also throw all the stems and leaves in the garden bed until spring – more food for the worms.