Can You Leave Dahlias in the Ground Over Winter

Whether you can leave dahlias in the ground over winter is a common question among so many gardeners that want to start growing dahlias, but are concerned about the overwintering.  Depending on the zone you are located at, you may be able to take simple steps to be able to leave the dahlia tubers in the ground to overwinter outdoors without having to deal with all the digging and dividing.

can you leave dahlias in the ground over winter

I am growing new varieties of dahlias and have decided that I will be leaving half of my dahlias on the ground again this year. You know the joy that dahlias bring to your backyard.  I love all kinds of flowers, but dahlias with their stunning colors and many petal shapes take my heart.

This year I decided to grow mostly pom pom and some cactus to try some new ones and I have been so happy with the selections. 

Overwintering is what may keep so many away from growing these beauties.  This is a common concern and I will clarify the ins and outs of the process for successfully overwintering dahlias.

Get ready to discover a hassle-free method that will give you amazing dahlias next spring!


Dahlias in the garden are such unique and beautiful flowers, but when fall approaches anxiety creeps in about the work involved with overwintering this popular flower.  Digging up, pruning, cleaning, storing, dividing in the spring, and planting all over again.  

And even more, the worrying if they will make it through the storing time.

Great news!  Depending on your zone and some easy steps you can take, you may not have to dig out your dahlias this year.

Let’s go into each of these you need to consider and find out whether dahlias come back every year.

dahlia flower GARDEN


You may not need to dig your dahlias every year, it all depends on the zone you are located in. Dahlias like other plants have different hardiness levels that depend on the zone you are located at. 

What Zone Can You Leave Dahlias in the Ground?

Dahlias will do well on zones 8 to 11, but I would be cautious is you are in colder zones.

I live in zone 8b in the Pacific Northwest and I still have to be cautious.  And to be honest, you always take a chance, since the weather lately has been so unpredictable.  

I left my dahlias for two years in the ground a few years ago.  I just did not want to dig them out and knew that two years is the longest I would leave them before the tubers get so large and won’t bloom as much.  At that point, you need to dig the dahlias out and divide them,

The first year, I got every single dahlia back!  Come the second year and it was not the same story.  We had a terrible winter and a lot of snow and ice.  I lost a few dahlias and will admit, was a little sad.  

Until I realized, I now could shop for new ones.  LOL!  And so I did!

growing dahlias from tubers

A Few Things to Consider Before Leaving Dahlias in the Ground Through the Winter

  • How unpredictable is the weather in your area?
  • How much sun does the dahlias location get through the winter?
  • How much wind do you get in the area of the dahlias?
  • What zone are you in?
  • Will you be totally devastated if you lose any of the dahlias you leave in the ground?
  • Do you want extra tubers from any of your dahlias?
  • How is your soil quality?  Do you need to amend your soil a lot next spring?

I consider each of these when i am making the decision whether to leave my dahlias in the ground for the winter.




Mostly safe, but look at the list of questions above before deciding.


They may make it with some winter mulching.  I would not leave any highly loved dahlias in the ground.


Too much risk.  Bring your dahlias in, you will be glad.

If you are in a zone that won’t work with leaving dahlias on the ground over the winter, then I have something for you. Check out ‘GROWING DAHLIAS INDOORS | DIY’. I go through step by step what to do in order to wake your dahlias up indoors.


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We in zone 8-11 are pretty lucky and we can leave our dahlias in the ground for the winter.  However, in a colder zone, where you may get freezing temperatures often, I would consider digging your dahlias out.

What Happens if you Leave Dahlias in the Ground Over Winter

The dahlia plant will die out after the first frost and turn brown. Depending on the zone the plant could die or if you are on a zone that the temperature does not freeze, zone 8-11, then the tubers will most likely survive the winter months when you take the right steps.

Pros and Cons To Consider if Leaving Dahlias in the Ground

PROS of Leaving Dahlias in the Ground:

  • Less Effort:  You do not have to worry about the digging, running, cleaning, storing and replanting.
  • Growth:  Dahlias will begin growing as established dahlias and may be better that next year in size and blooms.

CONS of Leaving Dahlias in the Ground:

  • Risk of Loss:  Freezing temperatures can damage or kill the tubers.
  • Slower Start:  Dahlias might take longer to grow in the Spring due to potential damage to the tuber.

Learn more about the dahlias I grew this year and which have become my favorite on Dahlia Flowers Season | BLOOMS THAT STOLE MY HEART!’. I have an absolute favorite you should consider growing next year!

dahlia color


Trimming our dahlias back is so critical.  I always trim them all the way back to the ground.

When do you Trim your dahlia?

I know we want our garden beautiful, but waiting until after the first frost before trimming is best. The dahlias will begin going dormant.

After First Frost: 

  • Wait until the leaves start turning brown, then you are ready to start the process to get them ready for winter
growing dahlias in container
  • Once the foliage has been blackened by the frost, carefully cut back the stems to about 4-6 inches from the ground.  I have seen people cut the stems all the way back to the ground.  I do not do this in my zone because we get so much rain and do not want any of the water to make it back to the tuber and cause rotting.  If you stem is thick and has a large hollow tube, place a piece of foil to cover the hole so water will not get in.
do dahlias come back every year

Lift the Tubers:  In the colder zones, go through the steps of removing your dahlias.


I want to just quickly touch on the subject of storing your tubers indoors. I know how frustrating it is if your tubers dry up or rot from the high humidity.

Storage Container

Store the dried tubers in a container filled with newspaper, peat moss, pine wood shavings or dry sawdust.  I tend to stay away from peat moss to help the environment, though it works.  My favorite way is using newspapers and storing the in permeable storage tots. Keep in mind that I store them in a dry area with low humidity, in my house.


If you are storing in a garage or more high humidity area look at wood shavings and a solid plastic container to prevent rotting. I prefer not to use the lid, always afraid of the dahlias rotting due to the high humidity that can build inside. Remember that the tuber is mostly made of water.

You have to create the right balance for the health of the tuber where it is not so dry they will shrivel and too humid that they will rot. This is why I keep my dahlia tubers inside my home.

The most important thing is where you store your dahlias indoors.  Find a location that is cool and frost-free. Don’t place it in a basement that gets really cold and humid.

dahlia in the garden


Once you have decided to keep your tubers outdoors in the ground, you will need to take another step after pruning.  

  1. MULCHING:  It is extremely important you add a layer of organic mulch to protect your dahlias.  Don’t  use treated mulch, you want a good quality mulch without any chemicals or dyes.
  2. TREATING:  Come February, I always sprinkle sluggo through the area where my dahlias are located.  Do this early enough for it to take effect and prevent slugs from eating the new growth of your dahlias.  Just sprinkle it all over, you don’t need to locate it on each dahlia.  I have seen dahlias disappear because of the slugs and not getting anything at all from the tuber.  Prevention is totally worth it!

This will further protect the dahlias from the freezing weather.

If you are having some issues with getting a lot of blooms, read ‘HELP! My DAHLIAS are not blooming! / MY FAVORITES!’.


At the end, it mostly matters what zone you are in in making a decision if you leave your dahlias in the ground over the winter.  But yes, it also is whether you feel like dealing with having to remove each dahlias.

Get ready to begin evaluating and ask me anything if you are not able to still decide.  

It is so critical to assess your zone, consider the pros and the cons to take the steps to protect your precious dahlias.

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  1. They are so pretty! I’ve never grown them, but your post made me want to try! I loved it when you talked about the JOY they bring. That’s exactly how I feel about my little backyard with all its blooms and birds!

    1. They are such special flowers, so many different ones to enjoy. You should try growing them, once you do, you won’t be able to stop. The light up your garden.

  2. I agree about dahlias being unique! This article is very helpful and so easy to understand, will follow your advice about keeping them out for the winter. Thank you and looking forward to your experienced yet simple recommendations.

    1. I love peonies also! I don’t have the space to have them, but they are such a stunning flower. If you decide to try again, let’s chat! Maybe I can help..

  3. Such beautiful flowers! I would definitely have to bring mine inside so thank you for including directions on how to do that. It honestly never occurred to me to save them. They are considered annuals here, but now I might give it a shot and try to overwinter them in my house.

    1. Oh, I am so glad you are going to save them. Yes, they are annuals but because they can be costly, so I save them. You can get so many out of one plants with all the tubers. let me know how it goes with over wintering for you!

  4. Dahlias are such gorgeous flowers! I can’t get over how big some of them get! Thanks for all the great tips on how to overwinter them!

    1. Thank you Donna! Dahlias are just incredible in size and look. And you can get so many different ones, making it so much fun.

  5. Your garden always amazes me. I love Dahlias and wish I could plant them in a garden. I’m trying to do the same process with zinnia seeds. You share such great info.

    1. Oh, you will love zinnias, they are so amazing! They are an easy gardening hack since they are so easy to grow and you get flowers for so long. I still have a ton, even though it is already fall.

  6. I just came across this and I’m going to implement some tips to trial overwinter my field bed! Just found out today my hardiness zone changed with the updated map, and since I’m now closer to zone 7… may as well 🫣😅 Thanks for a solid article!

    1. I am so happy that you found the article helpful My zone did not change, I think we are even having a warmer winter, so they say. LOL! A couple of years ago I left all my dahlias on the ground and we had the strongest winter, I thought I lost them all. But most made it through! I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you with the dahlias.

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