Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Barbara’s Question About Dahlias:  Barbara G-H. moved here from New York where dahlias have to be dug up every autumn, stored over the winter, and replanted each spring.  At lunch after a golf outing, she was telling me about her dahlias that had become quite ragged-looking last summer, and how she and her husband had pulled them up and trashed them.  She asked about growing them here in central Florida:

Dahlia - Pink

This photo by “criminalatt” can be found at

My Answer:  Most likely, Barbara’s dahlias were suffering from the heat and periods of dryness we experienced last summer. Here in Zone 9-A (central Florida), dahlias can be left in place year-round. They will likely suffer during times of extreme heat, but if they begin to look too badly, they can be cut back. When the heat wave is over, they will perk up and begin to bloom again. I have not grown them here, so I don’t know for sure whether they will die down during the winter, but probably not, because my geraniums don’t and they are just as tender as dahlias.

I had beautiful red dahlias when we lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, much farther north than we are here in Florida. There, of course, the dahlias died down every winter, and came back every spring. Barbara was disappointed to learn that she could have simply trimmed off the ragged part of the plants, and waited for them to put out new growth. I wish we had had our conversation a month or so earlier — her dahlias could have been saved.

Here’s another beautiful dahlia, photo by:  Mister GC:

Dahlia - Purple

Mister GC’s photo can be found at


2 responses to “Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

  1. I adore dahlias, but they never do well for me in Florida. I live right near the beach, so maybe it’s the salt air. It’s so sad that they don’t like it here. Any suggestions for varieties that may do well here?


    • Hi, deliciousdaydreams. It’s more likely the soil – dahlias will grow in almost any soil, but not sand. They require good drainage, and at least 12 inches of tillable soil. You may need to amend the soil with good topsoil and composted cow manure. They also need full sun or slightly dappled light, but at the beach that shouldn’t be a problem. If they are in the deep shade of larger tropical plants, they may need to be relocated to a sunny spot with good lose soil. With insufficient light, they will grow long and leggy, and will need to be staked. Often they can become top-heavy, and need staking anyway. Thanks so much for your question, and good luck with your dahlias. If you have time, let me know how they do this year.


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