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Dahlia Project Update
By Suraya David-Sadira FTT and Assistant Mini-Farm Manager, TJC

A few of the gorgeous dahlias harvested at TJC this year (credit: Suraya David-Sadira)

In 2021, we established an experimental 10-Bed Unit at The Jeavons Center with a diet design including dahlias as a versatile carbon/calorie/income crop. This is an ongoing project, and we're still growing dahlias in 2024, tweaking and improving the selection and cropping technique. Suraya is working on a Self-Teaching Mini-Series booklet that will give a detailed account of her work with dahlias as a GROW BIOINTENSIVE crop. So this is the final installment on this series of articles—for now.

As a wrap-up, we've got the highlights of what we've discovered so far, so that if you want to try growing dahlias for biomass, calories, and a beautiful crop of flowers, you can benefit from what we've learned. You can find a good intro to edible dahlias here.


  • Plant tubers horizontally, not vertically.
  • Only water tubers once, when first planting and then not again until sprouted.
  • Prune dahlias down to 2 or 3 growth nodes when they are 9” tall. This will encourage more bushing and main stems to grow.
  • Be sure to trellis dahlias to support their growth.
  • When cutting flowers, cut with long stems to encourage growth from lower nodes. 9-18” is usually good.
  • To increase dahlia’s vase life, cut flowers in the morning when they are most hydrated, then, put them in warm-hot water in a dark place until you are ready to distribute them.
  • Dahlia tubers are highly susceptible to root rot, so don't over-water. You may need to dig them out in the winter to prevent water damage, depending on your growing zone and soil type. If you are in zone 8 or higher you can leave them in the ground, but you will want to tarp or cover to protect from rain.
  • When dividing tubers, it is important to make sure each tuber has a viable and intact neck and eye.
  • When storing tubers, make sure to place them in a material that can absorb moisture but not dry them out. Shredded paper works great.

You can read about the tuber harvesting and dividing process in my article from 2022, here.

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