Emergency Question: How dry before wrapping?

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Hi all-

I dug one variety that was in my way for other plants and I have rinsed, written the name on the tubers, & bulb dusted. How dry do they have to be before wrapping in Saran wrap? They look dry. But maybe that's because of the bulb dust/vermiculite on them?

I didn't cut them into singles. The mother bulb was easy to find and I cut or snapped her off, but the tubers & necks were very bumpy and looked like they had 100s of eyes to me. :(

Suzy

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Suzy - looks like a 100, but not really. I dug a couple up today to take a few pics and did some other prep work. I am not doing any saran this year, but drying them overnight is pretty safe. I think as long as they don't dry out and start cracking it's not too long.

I took a blind division shot showing that if you can't see eyes to then split the tubers and stem up. Most likely each one of these would get 1-3 eyes in the spring. I hate dividing in the fall and glad I don't do it for a living.

Thumbnail by bigcityal
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the picture...how does this work for trading, though? Say I have 10 Berliner Kleene to trade (and I do, if anybody wants them...I'm guessing they are too common for most people on this forum, though.). What if I cut them wrong and one half has 6 eyes and the other half has none? Or are the eyes only on the outside? Yeah, I bet that's the answer...the eyes are only on the outside.

Al, you divide your tubers in spring only? Or are you just saying you hate doing it?

Oh, and what sort of implement(s) did you use to cut with? The tubers are harder than I expected, but I don't need my Samurai knives. :(

Suzy

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Suzy,
No I love dividing them when there are green shoots instead of bumpy eyes. In reality I will run out of room if I multiply what I have and get new ones. I tried to get a good eye picture but it came out blurry. I gave the thumbs up for BK, I didn't stake it and the bugs got it a little. Trading is in spring and if nothing else you can offer them up for postage for people needing some.
I use a disposable utility/carpet knife, although a paring knife or anything sharp and longer is OK - safety is first.
I basically do a rough division of dividing the stems, cutting out the small/weak tubers and the mother tuber.

Thumbnail by bigcityal
(Zone 7b)

Why do you cut out the mother tuber?

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

I have always heard that it won't help the plant grow much the next year and it would be the first to rot in storage. I'm filling in for Pooch while she's gone ;)

(Zone 7b)

Very interesting - I hadn't heard of this until now. Thanks for the info.

Valencia, PA(Zone 5b)

Last year, I had one plant that bloomed very well and I thought it would have lots of tubers, not so , all it had was one large mother tuber. I took a chance and kept it. It bloomed very well again this year. Lots and lots of blooms. We'll have to see what happens this year when I dig it up. So yo never really know for sure. Question: Why are you not using Syran wrap this year? Thanks, Karen

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Who me?

Mine all got moldy last year in in saran wrap. The attic where they are stored will vary in temperature 15-20 degrees over their storage period which I think led to the condesation. Peat moss buffers that for me better I think.

(Zone 7b)

I've stored mine in peat moss for many years, in various locations, and have never lost a tuber to mold since doing so.

Delhi, IA

MY saran wrap worked well last year. I cut up, dust cuts with sulfur, then leave until morning to wrap. Am a little smarter this year. Last year I put all identical tubers in a plastic grocery bag. Well each time I wanted to check over I had to untie the bag. This year it will be clear zip bags. Much less hassle.

Thumbnail by jamlover
Delhi, IA

This was a cutting I did last April. Did real well. I want a whole row of it this year so all is going well. Here are the tubers it yielded all dusted with sulfur.

Thumbnail by jamlover
Delhi, IA

And the final step, wrapped in saran and bagged for the winter. I will have more to go in the bag when I really start digging. Just wanted to check on my cuttings.

Thumbnail by jamlover
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Oh, man, did I get an education on those photos...what a hoot! I thought you were supposed to dust the tubers with sulphur, so I dusted the whole thing, not just the cut ends. It is messy and my giganto-tubers didn't fit in the bag I made so those had to be put in one end in, then pulled out and put in the other way. Lol!

Have you ever heard of the gas permeability index of various plastics? Well, it's not "index" but that gives the general idea. Saran wrap and the grocery store plastic bags would be high on the index and a ziploc bag such as you show is much lower. A freezer ziploc is even lower still because it allows much less gas trasferral between inside and outside -- abiliity to "breathe" is a better way to phrase it. I guess what I want you to know is that in the ziploc, there isn't as much air transferral as you had last year in the grocery store bags -- and by a rather wide margin. If you run into problems of too much moisture, you need to vent the bag with small perforations or just unzip it a little bit. It probably won't be a problem, persoanlly I have only lost tubers to drying out, but there are soooooo many of those Zorros I'd hate for you to not have your border and thought I'd at least mention it.

Suzy

Delhi, IA

I had a few of mine in the zip lock last year, but most in grocery bags after wrapping in saran. Thought I was saving a little money not using new zip lock bags, but I learned my lesson when it was time to inspect and am going with the ziplock this year. I didn't necessarily zip tight, more to keep all like tubers together. Like you my usual losses have always been to drying out. I then put all the tubers in 2 large coolers to help keep the temp. constant.

I did like you the first times I used the sulfur. You get so much all over you can't even read the names on the tubers. All that needs it is the scuffed spots and cuts. Helps them dry and heal. This year I mixed about a cup of perlite with a couple of tbsps. of sulfur, then just stuck in the part that needed treating and flipped it around.

Zorro is noted for long slender tubers, the kind that will dry out quickly. I have 2 more that were cuttings, plus probably 2 plants in the reg. flower beds, so I was anxious to see what the cuttings did. This first on did very well for itself!!

Delhi, IA

Meant to add if you only have a few to do you can spray the cut areas with Lysol. It will do the same thing. Course it will need drying time before wrapping.

Plants I dug and treated yesterday will be wrapped today. Then I start all over and dig for today. When you have probably 80 plants to dig I can easily get overwhelmed if I dug them all and then proceed. This way if it rains you get a day off and it's not so intimidating. Big projects get a little scary at my age!!

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Jam - I got the first half of my 80 done before it rained, now I have to play in the mud ;(

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Zeus and Al -- When you pack in peat, how do you keep all your varieties segregated? Or don't you bother worrying about it when the names are all on the individual tubers? I was also wondering if the peat goes in a cardboard box or a plastic bin..or what?

liebran -- that's what I had, except there were 3, 4, 5 mother tubers growing together with no space between them! I didn't treat them very well and chopped the big clumps in 4ths with a cleaver. I cut through everything -- tubers, necks, stems, eyes - whatever was in the way when I went WHAP! with the 12" cleaver. The 12-14" necks -- the ones I formerly reported as 7-8" -- were chopped down to regular about 1".

Jam - I saw the tubers, but what did you start with and did they bloom? I can't quite figure out the cycle. I want to do cuttings next year, too! My idea is to buy only one of a certain 2'0" border dahlia and make cuttings with it to make 10 or so. If I want 10 as my final product, would I need to purchase more than one tuber? (Fancy tuber -- the kind you only get one of when you place the order.)

The rest -- the instructions and all -- can wait until Dec-Jan when I imagine the forum is pretty slow, but I am placing orders now, and I need to know how many to buy.

Suzy

Delhi, IA

THE plant pictured at 6:27pm was a cutting I did last April and was the one all the tubers came from. Yes, it bloomed.

Some varieties are generous tuber-makers, yielding as that clump did. Other varieties may only have 2 or 3 viable tubers to divide. Of all I have Zorro puts out the "skinniest" product. Last year when I dug I figured Zorro would all be dried up by spring, they were so skinny. You will soon start to recognize some by the shape and the size of the tubers it gives. As a whole I'd guess you'd average about 5 or 6 good tubers from a healthy plant.

One I had which several folks were interested in a piece of broke over in the wind about 3 weeks before digging and about half of it was rotting!!! I think I got a total of 2 tubers from what was left. Bummer. (Naomi everyone)

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

So one cutting in spring would yield a blooming size plant? Then why don't we all place an order for 10 dahlias each and trade cuttings to get 70? That's not a serious question, and I think I know the answer -- is it because it delays bloom of the original tuber?

I assumed that Zorro was new to you last year, Jam, and that you took many cuttings from it. BUT I bet you had it in your garden for a while and had more than one plant to get cuttings from, right? So, if I buy ONE tuber next year and take cuttings from it, how many cuttings can I expect to get? And does it delay blooming? Seems like if you have to pinch it back anyway, you might as well wait for it to get a little height and take that and root it. I did that with some Chrysanthemums I bought from Bluestone and now have 9 of the ugliest mauve mums you've ever seen. Darn! They had described the color as PINK!

Bummer on Naomi (assume it's Karma Naomi? Tall, orange-red?). A garden friend here has bunches of it and I'm going to hit her up for some. I'll see if I can snag a few extras. I will be trading my long necks for it, so we'll see if I can hide them in enough peat moss to make her think it's a good trade :)

Suzy

Delhi, IA

Last Spring I brought up 4 different varieties____ one tuber of each variety that I wanted to take cuttings from. My one Zorro tuber last spring yielded three nice cuttings. Pictured is one of the plants resulting. Of those 4 tubers I took cuttings from, I ended up with a row of 10 plants from cuttings, so they didn't even average 3 a piece______ more like 2+. This was the first time I tried cuttings and felt some success. These were cuttings directly off the tuber and when you remove it there is no positive assurance that it will grow again. But it was fun.

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Suzy - I actually put mine in big plastic pots - with holes in the bottoms. No I don't really arrange them. They go in as ready, I do space them out well in there and make sure they don't touch each other.

(Zone 7b)

I use plastic totes, arrange the tubers on a bed of peat so they aren't touching, and then fill the tote up to about 1" below the rim with peat, and bung them into the crawl space under the house.

Works for me, and oh, I don't divide them either, just plunk in the clump, because I like a big messy plant with tons of blooms.

Valencia, PA(Zone 5b)

Last year was my first year with tubers. After we finally learned to leave the eye IN the cutting, we did ok. We put perlite and sulfur in a baggie and just "shake and baked" the entire tuber. Sulfur did stick all over, but was not a big mess. some we stored in perlite and zipper bags and some in syran wrap. Both worked out. I think the syran seems easier for me. Hope it works this fall. I am in 5b and still have buds and flowers blooming, despite the cold weather this past week. I am waiting for the ONE bud that came on Naomi to see if she opens-doesn't look too promising. But I got one or two flowers each from the other Karmas (Prospero-beaufitul light lilac) and Ventura (lovely yellow-my favorite color). Also, Cha Cha Cha still has 3 blooms opening. It will get cool next week, but not near 32. Should I wait till the plants look like they have had it to dig up the tubers? Karen (aka liebran)
Orchid Lace:

Thumbnail by liebran
Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

If you want to see those flowers, or at least give them a chance, why not wait a week or two? If you do get a frosty freeze by then, you've lost nothing but a week or so to dig dahlias. That won't hurt anything but your cold fingers.

I was so sentimental that I cut and saved barely open buds off plants I chopped down today. Winter is so gray, I say cherish any color while you can!

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Jam, It sounded so great until the 2nd to the last sentence...the one where there are no assurances the original tuber will keep growing! It would be demoralizing to kill brand new tubers! I'll no doubt be tempted to try it, and will ask for detailed directions closer to spring.

I'm testing several ways to store these pups...not to lay claim as to the best way, just the best way for me and my situation in Indianapolis. Hell, not even the best way, just a way that works! I know for dahlias & probably cannas and caladiums, each person has to come up with what works in their environment, and I believe that was my big mistake before....I just kept following the same instructions, even though it didn't work the 1st year, the 2nd year, etc.: (The instructions were to put a little peat in a cardboard box, put the tuber clump in on top of the peat, and fill with dry peat all around to completely cover. Put in a cold place that doesn't freeze until spring. )

Al, is it one variety per pot then? Or are you depending on that name on the tuber itself? I wouldn't like having to rifle through them to find the one I wanted. I think the idea of the clear bag to hold like kinds makes the most sense for when it's time to plant out. So my test idea was to fill a ziploc with peat and put the same variety tubers in so they don't touch either each other or the plastic wall. Oh, and where do I get that fancy copper for name tags? I have some that was part of the cupola roof, but it is very sharp and too thick. Is yours copper flashing?

Zeus, this is interesting to me because I know how big those clumps are. It would take a massive tote to hold just 2 clumps and if you grow enough dahlias, wouldn't you need many, many, many totes? (This was always my problem in the past, well that and the fact that I didn't use plastic, I always used cardboard boxes...everything dried out. I probably tried it between 6 and 8 years total and was successful with a couple of boxes one year and that's it. I still remember the name of the dahlia, Ellen Huston. Dark Foliage and bright orange-red flowers. I still have a fondness for it.)

As a test, I used a small rubbermaid box -- a little bigger than a shoebox and put some tubers in it in two layers. I slipped the whole thing in the refrigerator. The cover is NOT watertight or even air tight, so I may have to mist them or something after Christmas. Does anybody post "tuber reminders"? Reminders to look at your tubers every month? Once Thanksgiving comes, I might forget all about them!

For another test, I can use a regular Rubbermaid tote and peat in the crawl space, but I didn't have enough peat on hand for the big tote. Maybe with tomorrow's harvest.

Suzy

(Zone 7b)

I know someone who stores his tubers in his garage in old chest of drawers, filled with vermiculite - and his dahlias are spectacular - whatever works.


Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

A chest of drawers full of tubers! I would call that my treasure chest. What a great idea.

Suzy, I used to use peat in rubbermaid type bins to store clumps. Yes, you would need a jillion bins/boxes which is why the saran wrap method or dividing in Fall and storing single tubers saves so much room.
Maybe try a couple different ways and see what works. Woodshavings, sawdust are used too.

Liebran, when you used perlite in a ziplock bag for tubers, did you zip it shut, just fold it over without zipping or keep them open to air? I like storing in big gallon ziplocks because I can write the name of the variety on the bag, to see who I'm looking for, and they're reusable.

Valencia, PA(Zone 5b)

Pooch, we had read that tubers need to get some "air," so we only closed the zip lock bag a small way--mostly it was open, some we had to close more because the tubers were so big that to cover them took more perlite-to keep it from falling out. We got blooms from those and also from the syran wrap. I'm going that way this year. I think I will still put the sulfur in some perlite and do the "shake and bake" for the whole tuber instead of just the cut spots, I am thinking (as a nurse), it may keep any other organisms causing mold etc. from getting a foothold. LIke you say, IF it works, go with it. Thanks, Karen (Yes, I am waiting, as I have several blooms still coming out-however Naomi is still a bud and I don't think she is going to open :-(

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

I think like you liebran and will sulphur dust the whole tubers. I know I nicked a few yesterday and trimming long ends/roots off leaves an open wound I don't like to leave uncovered. Although it would be so much easier to just do the ends so you don't have to rewrite the name a second time.
Maybe I'll try a few dipping just the cut necks and root ends and see how it goes.

For people having trouble finding sulphur dust Captan Rose Dust is sulphurous and many dahlia growers use it for tubers. What I found at the farm and feed store is Hi Yield Wettable Sulphur Dust. 4 lbs will last several years at least.
http://www.cooperseeds.com/pages/gardenchem/fungicides.html

Fox River Valley Are, WI(Zone 5a)

Ok I know this has been asked a thousand and 1 times but... What temperature do I have to store these at so they won't sprout?

Delhi, IA

As close to 45 as you can come. My storage room runs 45 to 50 and gives me no problems. Warmer growth may start up earlier or rot____ Down to 40 is fine. Drop below freezing---- sure tuber mush and rot.

Fox River Valley Are, WI(Zone 5a)

My fridge runs around 37+-. So as long as they don't freeze?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

37 would be fine. Is the Fox River Valley the same Fox River that flows into Northern Illinois?

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

That's a cheap imitation Pooch, only real Fox River's flow north.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Al! You're online!

On this peat moss -- is it supposed to be bone dry or a teenybit damp. I sorta need to know now, so anybody who can answer is fine.

Suzy

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

I answered my own question on the Fox River Valley.
http://www.city-data.com/city/Fox-River-Valley-Gardens-Illinois.html
Menasha might be the impersonator Al. But a quick search makes living there in your area sound heavenly.... " A pleasant combination of country and city" something to that effect. Yah, they didn't write that when it was 40 below with a 40 mph wind LOL!

Suzy, dampened, (barely dampened) peat moss is the way to go. Spritz it with water and stir it up a bit at intervals during the winter. It's notorious for drying out tubers.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

If it's notorious for drying out tubers THEN WHY DO THEY SAY TO USE IT?!

Err, sorry, I didn't mean to yell at you, but honestly, it seems like a valid complaint! I could have bought other stuff -- vermiculite, perlite, potting soil, compost, cow manure, there are a host of alternatives.

Suzy

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Well, vermiculite would be similar, but more expensive, but cleaner in the spring.

I have used dry peat moss and when I take the tubers out in the spring it is a little damp.

Pooch - yes I live in the Fox Valley also. Don't blame all your Minnesota problems on Wisconsin now ;)

Fox River Valley Are, WI(Zone 5a)

Given the weather at the moment wish I was in Issaquah, WA :*) Does it really rain a lot in WA? Thinking of moving to Oregon or WA.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images
    BACK TO TOP