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Dahlias: Glad to be back in the dirt!

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Forum: DahliasReplies: 16, Views: 164
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kays_camelot
Port Sanilac, MI

April 14, 2011
12:52 PM

Post #8495475

Just got home from our winter in Florida last night and this morning we set up all the tables in our walk out basement to spread our dahlias on. Very few rotten and a few small sprouts! Looking good. I do have a question or two. Do I leave them in the saran wrap in the sunlight or do I take them out? Do I sprinkle them with a mist of water? I'd like to set them in damp soil but not having a dirt floor in the basement now and not wanting one when we're done, it is out of the question.

Hope one of my kids decides to have Easter Dinner, I told them it was out of the question here because the dahlias are taking up all the space. lol

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pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

April 14, 2011
1:04 PM

Post #8495510

As I understand it you're better off to pot them up in barely damp soil, put them in sunlight and don't water again until you have a good amount of growth.

How I wish we had a basement like yours!
kays_camelot
Port Sanilac, MI

April 14, 2011
2:12 PM

Post #8495695

Are you saying to pot them before they show sprouts? That would be a great idea if it works. Since I plan on transplanting them into the garden, should I use potting soil or garden soil?
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

April 14, 2011
2:24 PM

Post #8495720

Yes, you can. I would not use garden soil. Give them the best start you can and that would be some soil-less mix. Make sure it's not wet - just barely damp.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 14, 2011
3:39 PM

Post #8495830

I took my tubers out and just laid them about half in soil that was a little damp. You can lay a bunch that way assuming the tubers aren't huge. Then as they sprout you can pot them up. that way you don't go through a lot of work, pots, and dirt on tubers that might not produce. Plus I nip the first few sprouts and propagate them to make up for losses to rot, and as gifts for friends.
mccaine
Wilmington, NC
(Zone 8a)

March 7, 2012
8:52 AM

Post #9033239

Oberon46 wrote:I took my tubers out and just laid them about half in soil that was a little damp. You can lay a bunch that way assuming the tubers aren't huge. Then as they sprout you can pot them up. that way you don't go through a lot of work, pots, and dirt on tubers that might not produce. Plus I nip the first few sprouts and propagate them to make up for losses to rot, and as gifts for friends.


Could you expand on propagating the sprouts? That sounds like a dream come true! I overwinter my dahlia tubers in my garage in paper bags. What is the procedure with plastic wrap? Also, this year I want to put them in the ground for the first time because I'm tired of all those pots. Any thoughts about light and soil or anything else I need to know? I see them paired with Irises a lot but in zone 8 is that too hot?
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2012
9:31 AM

Post #9033272

I read this in "Raising Beautiful Dahlias the Easy Way" edited by Richard W. Peters, M.D. He is an advanced master gardener and has grown dahlias for 20 years and holds many seats on various local and national dahlia groups. Another contributor was Kevin Larkin, co-owner of Corrolito's Gardens. I have talked with Kevin at some length about propagating dahlias as well as growing them in general. I highly recommend this little soft cover book. It has great explanations about growing, storing, propagating dahlias, plus a whole lot more.

"Plastic Wrap Method: After the tubers are cut from the clump, they can sit for a couple of hours so they are damp, but not dripping wet. They can also be allowed to dry in about 12-24 hours. Use a heavy-duty plastic bag and put in one and one half cuts of dry vermiculite. To this add 1/4 cup powdered sulfur. Take 3-7 dahlia tubers and put them in the bag, shake for a few seconds, and remove from the bag using a gloved hand. The tubers will be lightly coated with the powdered sulphur. If the tubers are too wet or if the sulfur is excessive in amount, as messy, thick coating will occur.

Cut off a piece of plastic wrap about 2' long and place it on a table. Completely wrap a tuber, then add another if the warp allows, assuring the tubers don't touch. Make sure the ends are tightly closed also. You can store them all piled in a box. No need for air circulation in this method as the packages are almost air tight."

He goes on much more so I would recommend you get this booklet. Lots of good color pictures.

Sprouting: In a nutshell, I wait until I get a sprout "about 3 inches tall with one or two pairs of good leaves". Then I use a sharp knife to cut the shoot about 1-16" above the crown. Actually I just cut it close to the tuber.You will find a pair of rubimentary leaves in this area and the cut is usually made right in the lower part of the stem from where these leaves emergy. Trim off the rudimentary leaves (not the ones at the top.) Dip in rooting hormone that includes a fungicide. Don't let it cake or use the gel type. They recommend the styrofoam cups (4 oz) size for the 'pot' and 12 ounce clear plastic drinking cups for tops. Put 4-6 holes in the sides of the 4oz cup. Fill almost to the top with sterile potting soil. I use a pencil to poke a hole in the dirt into which I put the cut plant. Pour enough water in the cup to totally wet it then push on the top of the soils so the excess water exits the holes at the bottom. Put on the clear top, and voila, a tiny greenhouse. Roots form in 16-20 days and the plant will begin to grow. I have them under shop lights about 6" away from the plant. Very important! When the plant looks viable, tilt the top slightly to allow a little of the drier air inside the cup. If you take the top off all at once the plant will wilt and die within hours. Each day tilt it a little more, then take it off to test the plant. Watch it carefully to assure it doesn't wilt. At that point you have a new dahlia. Don't forget to label the cup.

You can take 12-14 cuttings from a tuber if you can, but 6 is more the norm.

I sometimes put smaller dahlias (12-18") IN their pots directly into the ground. They will send roots out the pots to the soil. Makes it easier to get them up in the fall. These are full size pots of course, 1-3 gallon.

Guess I best quit taking up space here. I will let others kick in with soil, light, fertilizer etc. I am not that good at those things.
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 7, 2012
9:35 AM

Post #9033282

Loved all the information, MC. Thank you so much! I may try it with some dahlias I just bought at Home Depot.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2012
9:38 AM

Post #9033285

I can fire up my desk top computer and post a couple of pictures of how mine look to help.
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 7, 2012
9:39 AM

Post #9033287

Yes! Please do that. Many of us can learn from photos more easily than words. Thanks!
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2012
9:55 AM

Post #9033303

these show my dahlias and some of the tubers from which I took cuttings. I couldn't find the little styrofoam cuts for the bottoms so used clear cups. Plus is that I can see the dirt and the roots as they appear. Negative is that the tops keep getting bumped askew which doesn't happen with the styrofoam cups.

the shot which shows large leaved plants under cups --- these turned out to be rather big for propagating. They didn't turn out as well as the ones I got early on that were skinny stems with just a couple of small leaves on top. I think the larger leaves were too much to support for the rooting system. My guess anyway. As it was I ended up with about 8 Kaiser Wilhelms from one tuber and at least as many Hockley Maroons from another. both are heirloom dahlias from OHG.

This message was edited Mar 7, 2012 9:58 AM

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pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 7, 2012
10:51 AM

Post #9033362

Nice set up! Thanks for the photos.

My question is - do I take cuttings from the tubers the same way I'd remove an eye from a potato?
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2012
10:59 AM

Post #9033370

Nooo. Not exactly. You would let the eye grow and when it was two or three inches long with a couple of leaves you want to cut it at the base where you will see two little tiny leaves. I have just nipped them off about 2" long and that works too. Nor would you use a potato peeler's digging end. Just nip it off with a sharp scissors or knife.
mccaine
Wilmington, NC
(Zone 8a)

March 7, 2012
11:02 AM

Post #9033373

[quote="Oberon46"]"Cut off a piece of plastic wrap about 2' long and place it on a table. Completely wrap a tuber, then add another if the warp allows, assuring the tubers don't touch. Make sure the ends are tightly closed also. You can store them all piled in a box. No need for air circulation in this method as the packages are almost air tight."

Thanks Oberon46! One final question, what is the purpose of the plastic wrap procedure? Whay not just let them go dormant in a cool dark place?
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 7, 2012
11:03 AM

Post #9033375

Thanks, Mary.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 7, 2012
11:09 AM

Post #9033380

I used to do that. Best I can figure is: the tubers are not touching one another, so if one gets rot, it can't affect the others. they don't desiccate since they are air tight. the other way works also but I had some of the smaller tubers just dry up. I didn't watch them or water during winter. i have stored in vermiculite, sphagnum moss, nothing. I find this method, while a little more work, seems to give the best results for me. could be the nature of my garage or crawl space. The best method, of course, is what works for each of us. lol
mccaine
Wilmington, NC
(Zone 8a)

March 7, 2012
1:42 PM

Post #9033556

Great, Thank you!!

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