Survival against the odds – my dahlias

Back in autumn I mentioned that was going to try and nurture the tubers of my Bishop’s Children dahlias – grown from seed last year – so they get through the winter.

‘Nurture’ is used in the loosest sense, meaning essentially that I didn’t dig them up and throw them away. My toddler gave some a scattering of mulch (wood chippings) to protect them from frost, and I dug one up and stored it in a box.

Better gardeners take a great deal of care with their dahlias, but I originally grew mine as annuals so any surviving tubers are a bonus.

I’m yet to discover if the tubers in the ground are OK, but it hasn’t been a very harsh winter (yet) so they’ve got a chance. But today I had a close look at the boxed one, and was very happy to see three healthy little shoots emerging from the centre of the clump.

Dahlia shoots overcoming adversity

Dahlia shoots overcoming adversity

This is pretty impressive given the treatment it’s endured. My intention was to carefully remove the soil from around the tubers, and gently pack them in dry compost. The reality is that I shoved it in a cardboard box on top of some newspaper and left it in the utility room.

The sorry state of my dahlia storage

The sorry state of my dahlia storage

Having read something in my new magazine about it being time to pot up healthy tubers, I got on with this job for my single specimen (into top soil, because that’s all I had).

Potted dahlia tuber, back inside for a while

Potted dahlia tuber, back inside for a while

I then realised my magazine was the March issue and Monty Don suggested they should go into a cold frame in the middle of the month. Hey, so I’m a bit premature, I’ll keep my potted dahlia in the utility room for a few weeks before sending it up to to the cold frame – which has been newly positioned on the sunny bank up at the allotment.


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