Dennis Does Dahlias

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Dennis Nutley, co-owner of Green Cottage, has been growing dahlias for many years and his collection numbers in the hundreds. The garden in front of Green Cottage is filled with them and many find their way into some of his gorgeous summer bouquets. Because dahlias are tender annuals prone to rot, the bulbs must be dug up before the frost, dried thoroughly, and then transferred to a warm, dry, and ventilated environment over the winter. Although opinions differ on how best to accomplish this, after trial and error Dennis has hit upon a very efficient method. He (or David!) digs up the bulbs after the foliage has yellowed and allows them to dry out until the skin is wrinkled. Then he piles them into plastic tubs with the lids slightly ajar and stores them in a dark corner of the basement. Dennis does caution, "it is important not to let the tubers sit in the basement too long. Most bulb damage occurs at the end of their long nap. I like to get them into the ground around the first week of May, since even if there are a few more frosts the bulbs are not affected because they are protected under the earth." Fellow dahlia lovers, give this a try! Next spring newly rejuvenated dahlia bulbs can grace your garden too.
Addendum: Upon reflection, Dennis revised some of his dahlia advice. If the number of bulbs you are packing away is considerably fewer than the 500 he is dealing with, wrap them individually in newsprint before you pack them away. Then you are sure to avoid rot. He didn't want to steer you wrong. "I worry about these things," he says.

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