How to put your dahlias to bed

Now we've had a more serious frost the dahlias look properly sad and it's time to put them to bed for the winter.  Since we turned the barn into our flower studio and office space, we no longer have anywhere to store the dahlia tubers in the winter, so we don't lift them.  Instead we leave them in the ground and mulch them hard.  

  • First we cut back all the above ground growth, then have a little hoe around the surface, just to get rid of any cheeky weeds.
  • Then we dig round the edges of the beds to make a shallow gutter where any surplus water can sit during the winter months.
  • Then we add a good heap of compost onto the whole bed (we use municipay green waste,) a depth of at least three inches.
  • THEN we chop up the phacelia we've had growing between the dahlia plants and lay it on the surface of the compost where it'll rot in slowly over the winter.
  • I'm about to treat us to a huge load of Dalefoot compost which we'll use sparingly as a final mulch over all and which will, over the winter, work its way down through the soil with the goodness of the phaceila, to feed the dahlias next year.  
  • Dahlias don't like cold or wet and you can find in the spring that they've rotted in the ground, but we find that this guttering system keeps the worst of the wet away, and the mulching keeps the frost off.  

For my next job I'll order a *few more dahlias to fill the gaps next spring (we always lose a few to the winter, but no more than we used to to mice and rot when we lifted them.)

Et voila!  Good luck and happy gardening!

*another couple of hundred!