Can’t Tell If Your Dahlia Tubers Are Dead? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Dahlia flowers are indeed mesmerizing, and you would want them to blossom gracefully in your garden every year. However, it is not easy to tell if your Dahlia tubers are dead or healthy. Even experienced gardeners can make a botch of it. 

Few warning signs that may help you know if your Dahlia tubers are dead include the displeasing smell, compressible texture, and mold covering.

4 Warning Signs That Signify That Your Dahlia Tubers Are Dead!

You would want to dugout the Dahlia tubers before winter so that they can be replanted in the spring. Some of these tubers may look dead and unable to sprout new roots. 

Yet, they may have a small viable part of the plant that can stimulate its growth. You don’t want to throw a useful one into the bin. 

Here are the signs that you should look out for to identify the dead ones that need to be thrown. Have a look!

1) Displeasing Smell

The smell is significant stimuli that warn us that something is wrong. For instance, the smell of a gas leak helps us take appropriate action on time. 

Healthy Dahlia emits a fresh sweet scent.

To know the health of a tuber, smell it. If you experience a terrible or rancid smell, your tuber is a victim of fungal spores and you would need to throw them.

Also, a very sweet and foul shows that the tuber is going through decomposition.

2) Easily Crushed and Compressible Texture

Texture conveys a lot about the status of a plant. You don’t have to employ rocket science to know the consistency of a plant, just carry it in your hand for evaluation.

Robust and fleshy tubers signify their sound health. They feel akin to freshly dug potatoes. On the flip side, soft and malleable tubers are a big red flag. You should get rid of them. 

3) Mold encapsulating tubers

If you see your plant covered in mold, you would know that it is infested by a fungal infection.

Fungal diseases do no good to plants and crops. There are numerous reasons why your plant can get infected with fungus. These are as follows:

  • Overwatering
  • Poor drainage function of your soil

If you notice your dahlia tubers have mold all over them, including their necks, it is time to bid farewell.

However, if dahlias leaves have only a few brown or white patches, you are not too late and can still save it by trimming the infected part.

4) Color of Tubers

The way our dry skin represents dehydration. Likewise, brown and dry tubers imply they are dead.

If you cut dried and brown tubers, you will see no moisture out of them. This means they are dead and you would need to throw them out. 

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Reasons Why Your Dahlia Tubers Become Dead?

There are two major reasons why your dahlia tubers may become a victim of rot and die. 

  1. Fungi: You must have heard about fungi. It’s deadly to plants. Fusarium is a specie of fungi that can mess with the dahlia roots and tubers. This specie inhabits plants and soil and needs dampness to survive. Sometimes amateur gardeners can overwater dahlias causing tubers to become the victim of Fusarium’s attacks.
  2. Natural Disasters: Last but not least, some things are not in our hands. For instance, we can’t do anything about heavy rainfalls that may subject your tubers to death. 

Why Are My Dahlia Leaves Curling? Reasons and Solutions

Is There Any Way You Can Stop Your Dahlia Tubersfrom Dying? 

Sometimes your dahlia tubers look healthy but have few cuts on them. You may think that it isn’t a big issue, but it is.

It may pave the door for fungus. Below are two methods that will help you save your tubers from demise.

Healing the cuts on tubers

Any cut on the tuber has to be healed to avoid fungal infections. To heal the cut, you can apply a 50:50 blend of sulfur and hydrated lime. 

The same method could be applied to heal the rotten tubers. Cut the rotten part of a tuber with a clean knife and apply a 50:50 blend of sulfur and hydrated lime. After you are done, bleach the knife and use it for the second half-rotten tuber. 


It is an important step as it will stop the infection from spreading. You can make a bleach solution with 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Always bleach your scissors and other tools after treating every cut.


You may have infected soil as well. If it is in a pot, simply replace the soil. If you cannot, you could sprinkle Fungicides on the infected part and your work is done! 

Preparing Dahlia Tubers for winter

Storing dahlias tubers in the appropriate place would save them from passing out during winter. 

Here are three storage options for dahlias tubers that can conserve them during winters.

a) Wooden containers: Dry your tubers properly before placing them in the wooden boxes. Place these boxes in a cooler room for example garage, basement, or barn.

Finally, cover the boxes with old or unwanted newspapers. 

b) Plastic food wrap: Plastic food wraps are of great use. These keep your food items super fresh by shielding them from the air that may cause unwanted moisture absorption. 

You can envelop each tuber in a plastic food wrap and place them in a box. The space between each tuber should be at least one inch. 

c) Paraffin method: For this method, you would need nets, crates, and paraffin wax. Prepare a warm enough water bath and melt paraffin in it. Dip the tubers properly into the melted paraffin. Be a little quick with this process as paraffin hardens swiftly. 

After processing tubers, place them in boxes, and those boxes can be placed on the balcony. Ensure that the surface beneath the boxes is not damp. 

Briefly, these storage places will prevent your dahlia tubers from drying or rotting. You would need to ensure the temperature of the storage location is between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius.

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How to Take Care of Your Dahlia Tubers?

This section will render you all the essentials you need to know about maintaining the health of dahlia tubers. So, what are you waiting for?

  1. Water your dahlia plants once or twice a week as overwatering may cause your dahlia stem and tubers to rot and expire.
  2. Dahlias’ yellow foliage is a ringing bell that signifies that it is the best time to dig your precious dahlia tubers. Cut the foliage and gently remove the tubers. After you have removed them, don’t forget to wash and dry them.
  3. After you are done with the drying, storage is the next task. We have already mentioned the storage methods above. You can follow any one of them as you may like.

3 Useful Tips to Plant Dahlia Tubers for Next Season!

Here’s a piece of bonus information that will help you plant dahlia tubers effectively for the next season!


Choose your plantation location well. Your Dahlia tubers must get at least 8 hours of sunlight every day. Too much or too little sunshine can hinder its growth.

Quality of Soil

For the plants or crops to blossom healthily, the soil has to be fertile.

There are numerous ways to check if your garden soil is fertile or not. Let’s have a look at them.

1) Fertile soil is full of life. It means if you dig a deep hole in your soil and observe it for a few minutes, you will notice several organisms, like beetles, earthworms, spiders, etc. 

2) Another foolproof method to check the fertility of your soil is to check how long it takes for water to get absorbed in the soil. The high absorption rate reflects soil is good to go. 

How to make your soil nutrients-rich?

If you got the negative results in the soil fertility test, it is time to take action. You can add organic manure to your soil for improving its fertility. Grass clipping and leaves covering will also be helpful. 

Have you heard about seaweed? Japanese people use seaweed to wrap the rolls of sushi, rice balls, or noodles. Dried raw seaweed consists of phosphorous, potash, sulfur, magnesium, and nitrogen. You can directly add seaweeds to your soil. 

Tip: You should start working on your soil a few months before planting tubers. 

Planting Dahlia Tubers

Make sure to plant your Dahlia tubers 12-16 inches apart to make space for air to flow through the plants.

If you won’t keep enough space between tubers while planting them, you may be paving the way for pests or fungal diseases to clutch your precious dahlia plants.

Take into consideration the depth factor. Dig 4-6 inches of soil and place tubers in them.

Don’t forget to add bone meal before placing the tuber into the hole. (Bone meal is a powder made of animal bones and offers abundant nourishment for growing dahlia plants.)

After you are done with the plantation, you need to shift your focus to watering your plants. Soil has adequate moisture and you don’t need to water your planted tubers until leaves start to show up. Overwatering may cause your dahlias to rot and die. 

Once you witness leaves on your plantation area, you should carry out a watering activity 2 or 3 times a week. 

Tip: You will be surprised to know that slugs are die-hard fans of tubers. Ensure that there are no leaves of plant debris on your planation site; sometimes, these things become hiding escapes for these slugs.

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