Saving a Dahlia Tuber with Rot

Maybe, just maybe, you ordered Dahlia tubers and left them in the plastic bag in the box they came in. Months pass and you discover this “buried treasure.” Horrors. Some are mushy. Wailing. What to do?

Saving single tubers so they bloom enthusiastically like this. All from a single tuber.

First get them out of the bags as fast as you can and check each tuber. Air. These tubers need lots of air. If you see some just have rot on the bottom half of tuber, it can be saved. (Money saved, money earned comes to mind especially since we shell out money for them, several dollars a piece. Some Dahlia tubers sell for a whopping twenty five dollars each, but granted you probably won’t forget about those ones.)

Get a clean knife and cut off the mushy portion of the tuber. If there is a brown ring still inside where you first cut, cut a little more off until the tuber’s interior is creamy white inside. Leave the rescued tuber out in the open to cure the fresh wound for a day. “In the open” meaning in a shaded area like your home, not left to sit in the hot summer sunshine or left out in a rainstorm. You can pot up the next day or go ahead and plant outside, if it’s still Summertime when you discover the misplaced tubers. Hopefully it’s not Snowing outside when they are uncovered. More wailing if so.

A clean and sterilized knife is always required when cutting away a tuber with rot. The last thing we want to do is add insult to injury by passing on a virus to a tuber.

If there are any that are mushy through and through with the neck and eyes rotted, those you will have to count as a loss. Sometimes they are hollow out to an empty shell and it’s like picking up a leaf, so light. Chances are most will just have only a bit of rot and a little emergency surgery will save your Dahlia investment.

Another scenario might be the eyes and sprouts are black and yet the tuber is solid. Chances are these can be saved too. I speak from experience here. (So much experience good and bad.) Take a the clean knife and scrape or cut off decomposed sprout. Leave these tubers out also in the open and recheck the next day after the wounds from scraping or cutting have dried. Often they will resprout when planted. If the rot goes deeper than on the surface and there is another eye or it looks like a new eye is possible cut off the decayed section. Dahlias have a will to survive and often just need a little help to recover after we neglect them.

This Dahlia Tuber can be saved. Bottom half has rotted, is mushy and wet.

Dahlias stored properly can last two years in storage. I speak from experience here as well. Dahlias really do want to put on a show for us, we just need to provide the right environment for them to bedazzle us.

Cut off all of decayed portion of Dahlia tuber.

Hopefully you won’t need to do any of these things with your tubers. You will be punctual in planting tubers as soon as you receive them and not hide the boxes here and there like a squirrel. Right.

Cut off decayed sprouts and portion of decayed neck to save Dahlia tuber.

May all your necessary Dahlia surgeries be successful.

More Dahlia help here.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. carolee says:

    Impressive! I had no clue that dahlias that had begun to rot could be saved. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you growing Dahlias this Summer? I hope so. 🙂


  2. You’re welcome. Happy gardening.


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