Dividing Dahlias before planting

Be sure to 'lift' Dahlias before winter

By: Sandy Feather ©2009
Penn State Extension

Q. I grew dahlias last summer for the first time, and was quite surprised to see how big the clump of bulbs had grown under the soil when I dug them up last fall. I just dug the whole clump up and stuck it in a box of shredded paper to store inside over the winter. Can I break that up into smaller pieces so I can plant dahlias in more places?

A. Dahlias are tender, summer-flowering bulbs that are not winter hardy in the greater Pittsburgh area. They must be lifted in fall and stored indoors for the winter, then replanted out in late spring. Botanically speaking, dahlias are tuberous roots rather than true bulbs.


New growth arises from buds or “eyes” found at the base of the dried out, dead stems where they attach to those swollen roots. It is critical to divide dahlias so that every root piece is attached to a piece of stem. Loose pieces of tuberous root that are not attached to a stem lack buds and will never grow.

Dahlia hanging basket
Dahlias in a hanging basket


Storing Dahlias

Dahlia powdery mildew

Cover Crops for Winter


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