Reminder to check your tubers

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Are you remembering to check your tubers every few weeks for rotters, those too dry, those too moist, or just to dream about next summer's bounty of blooms?

Someone on Yahoo posted an easy reminder to check tubers each holiday after storing. Except sloths like myself who stored the last batch 2 days before Christmas :( So pick a holiday in December, January, February, March and possibly April as a reminder to check and keep your tubers in good shape. Before we know it, it will be time to unpack and plant them.

Thumbnail by Poochella
Boise, ID

Well I buried my tubers in some buckets of moisture control sphagnum peat moss and threw them in my garage and the temp in there has been fluctuating all winter from the mid 30-s to the 50's. I've only seen one sprout pop out of the top of the bucket and I pinched that off. I did however find a very interesting article on the American Dahlia Society's website about storing your tubers in plastic wrap. I think I may try this next year I've got an extra fridge in the garage I can throw those suckers in.

Boise, ID

Alright, I'll bite. Which dahlia is that? It's a beauty ,just don't tell me where I can buy it because I probably will end up doing that.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Poochella - I didn't realize we both finished with our tubers two days before Christmas! I never did get to put them in either Vermiculite or Pro Mix as I usually do so they just went to the basement, on the floor, in bags. Today I checked and there was just one rotten tuber on one plant so I removed it, used bleach and it's drying now. I didn't know it was possible to store them without any type of medium in the bag.

Each one did get a tiny drink of water today - maybe a teaspoon or less.

Kilmarnock, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the reminder. They are all snug and safe in their beds (aka garage). Last year was my first time for growing dahlias so I need all the help I can get. Thanks again.


Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Edewitt, that is my second favorite ever dahlia: Painted Lady. Overall, it might be my very favorite besting even Hillcrest Kismet as it has many more blooms for me. Both are just mesmerizing up close, but I'm farsighted LOL. Saran wrapping has been around for a while now and is a huge space-saver. It's a little time consuming though, so I did less of it this season and more shavings or vermiculite in bags: fast and easy.

Pirl, I think I noticed your similar late season finish date in a Dmail, but got distracted (probably looking at dahlias...) Sounds like you stored clumps or clumplets then, without dividing? I've never stored in just bags but whatever works: do it!

Betty, glad you're going back for year two of dahlias! There's a lot of info here in the "sticky" on top of this forum's thread list, and at to help you out. ADS site is good too.
Mid Island Dahlia Society is pretty good for general information and National Capital is right in your 'neighborhood'

West Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6b)

Ever try Clara Marie? (he said, vowing to check out the BBs next year):

Boise, ID

Well I'm currently digging through my buckets of tubers. I'd say half of them have fungus on them I've had to throw quite a few out fortunately most of the ones I'm throwing out are ones from last year and not any I had purchased around the end of fall. Any suggestions or links you could throw my way because I get the feeling these plastic buckets filled with peat moss are not going to do the trick unless I want more tubers to throw out before the spring. Most of them are in clumps so the plastic wrap method is pretty much out the window. I can't divide tubers because I have no clue what I'm looking at when I'm checking the necks for eyes and no clue where to cut. Suggestions for alternate storing methods?

Boise, ID

I did however find the tuber with the crown gall and I'm very happy to say it was one I had put in a whiskey barrel planter so I'm guessing the planter is what has the diseased soil in it and fortunately it's not in my soil to my yard. Hooray! Sadly it was my A La Mode tuber from Swan Island and they stopped carrying that particular one. Booo!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Can you take pictures of your suspected fungus? Was the peat moss moist?

Peat moss is typically drying for prolonged storage. Some people have good luck with it, but I don't care for it much. It tends to cling and obscure things both in storage and when looking at tubers packaged in it in Spring.

Maybe you could you gather up boxes and buy a bale or couple bags of cedar shavings from a farm or pet store to use instead? Your visible eyes might have receded by now, so dividing would be a challenge at this point, but boxes and shavings would be easy enough for whole clumps. Bags even, if rodents aren't a problem.

Good news on the crown gall soil being contained. Even better: A La Mode is easy to find.

Long Branch, NJ(Zone 7a)

Going back to the 'Saran wrap' method from the ADS website as mentioned by Edewitt. -

Is there a possibility I can use a vacuum sealed bag using the Food Saver wrapping system?
If they suggest wrapping it in plastic wrap, then I think the food saver vacuumed wrap will be a better system.
What do you guys think?

Boise, ID

Poochella - I tossed them all out last night. They were all smelly and rotten covered with a flaky blue powder. I suspect since I put them in the bucket as clumps and then threw vermiculite in the open areas there was still enough space for air and moisture to wreak havoc on the tubers.

Tex68 - Sounds like a great idea although I'm not sure if the pressure from the suction would be enough to damage the tuber. I'd suspect probably not, but I've never used one of those vacuum sealers that would be my only concern otherwise it sounds like a great idea.

Long Branch, NJ(Zone 7a)

The food saver I'm using, I can control or moderate the pressure. Same method when I wrap food. I don't let it go all the way otherwise I will 'flatten' or disfigure whatever I'm wrapping. I buy a lot of meats when they're on sale and my brother do a lot of fishing so I always have a constant supply of fish. They stay in the freezer for months and when I open them they look as fresh as the day I wrapped them.
I will certainly experiment on this. Maybe I'll try with some Ginger tubers first and I'll see what happens to them.

Boise, ID

Yeah, let me know how that turns out. My mother-in-law has one and I may need to commandeer it if it works well.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Bummer edewitt. I lost 95% of mine one year stored in peat moss. (They likely froze hanging out in the uninsulated garage during a prolonged freeze, but I still blame the peat moss.)

Tex68, I can't find his specific statement, but Bernie Mandella one of the pioneers of Saran Wrapping a.k.a. "The Mandella Method," mentioned vacuum sealing was likely not a good idea. Too much air loss and absolutely no where for residual vapor from the tubers to escape. (Even with Saran wrap there are little air pockets around and between rolls of tubers.) That's all I remember.

I think it would be a worthwhile test to try it on some spare tubers though. I've wrapped extras in plain old newspaper, aluminum foil, and Press and Seal all with success. Next year: perhaps gift wrap, just for fun?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Found the rationale behind not trying vacuum sealing, from that other garden website...

* Posted by bernie__pa z6 Pa.
Mon, Nov 7, 05 at 10:48

"Poochella, I don't believe the plastic wrapping has to be air tight and I wouldn't advise vacuum sealing based on the experience of a knowledgeable friend of mine. He vacuumed some as an experiment and lost them all. He said when he opened them he was assailed by a mushy foul smelling mess like rotten eggs.
Since he also used sulfur as a fungicide, I assume some hydrogen sulfide was generated and couldn't escape.
I believe Jroot, who must have taught either chemistry or physics, has good handle on process of storing in any form of plastic wrapping that seals and prevents dehydration but allows any noxious gases that form to escape."

Boise, ID

Wow, that makes complete sense and is also a shame.

south of Grand Rapid, MI(Zone 5a)

I've used the saran method for several years and am totally sold on it. I don't use any dipping or dusting stuff. Just wash the dirt off, slice them up and roll them up. I do make sure that none of the tubers touch each other...they all have a layer of saran between them.

I do make sure they are stored in a dark rubbermaid container in a cool room around 50 degrees. Last year because of medical problems, I never checked them until May!!! I lost maybe 4 or 5 out of 60. I had many, many,many duplicates because I was afraid I was going to lose some!!

I never had good luck with storing them in peat moss...dried up.

Boise, ID

Just had a guy try to talk me out of doing the wood shavings idea and go with peat moss or vermiculite. 2 minutes of that and then I had to ask again if they had wood shavings. The store is usually helpful but that guy was starting to get on my nerves. I had to "Well I tried the peat moss and vermiculite and that didn't work so now I'm going to try some wood shavings. If that doesn't work then I'm out a few tubers and it's no big deal. So do you have any wood shavings?". I apparently (in this guy's mind) am making a mistake.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Hi Sarv! Glad the wrap works for you. It saves immensely on space, that's for sure. I still do a percentage of mine that way but baby them with bleach, sulphur- the whole nine yards.

Edewitt: Maybe peat moss and vermiculite are more expensive items and he works on commission? I've got about 1/3 of mine in vermiculite because I had a lot on hand. Works well to absorb any extra moisture given off, as well as insulate in case of power failure/heat loss.

One of the truest things said about dahlias is "Ask ten people how they store them, and you'll get ten different answers." And all ten will swear by their method, because it's worked well for them. That's the trick: find what works well for you in your area.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I use vermiculite lightly misted in sealed plastic freezer bags in my cold room. I have 99% success rate. HOWEVER I am in an overly dry, I repeat SO DRY YOU CAN ZAP YOUR CAT ACROSS THE ROOM WITH STATIC, conditions. Ditto to Pooch about the 10/10 thing. I also believe the best storage method depends on your conditions. Peat doesn't work for me. Haven't tried anything but peat and vermiculite.

Boise, ID

Well I ended up not getting the wood shavings. My problem seems to be that I'm storing them in my garage and here in Boise the temperature fluctuates quite crazily. At the beginning of December a week or two after I had finally put all my tubers in the buckets with peat moss and vermiculite it dropped down to -3 Fahrenheit. It's been in the 50's the past couple of weeks because January always tries to fake out everyone here in town and we forget it's winter and then February proceeds to remind us it's still winter. I still have a giant bag of peat moss and I do have my crawlspace below my house but I'm not sure how much the temp down there fluctuates and it appears the past month that mice have graced us with their presence in the house which might be an issue if I put them beneath the house. I haven't seen a trace of them in the garage. These are the problems I'm facing they are currently all out of the bucket. I've grabbed quite a few to test out taking cuttings from tubers over the next few months.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

This whole winter, aside from a brisk week in December has been like Spring, but like edewitt says: the big fake out cold spell could well lie ahead. So unwinter-like, I feel terrible for the Vancouver Olympic event sites needing to truck in snow, for crying out loud.

Edewitt: Could be time to check out pet fish stores for free styrofoam coolers for use under your house. They help insulate the tubers and I haven't met a rodent yet who will gnaw through them. Or could you wall off a corner of the garage, put up some insulation on its walls and use the Thermocube and space heater for better temp control inside it? Try what you have first, but that might be an option later.

Boise, ID

I'm mainly concerned with how I'm going to pack these up. I think that was my main problem. I don't think I packed them tight enough and it help create pockets of air in the dahlia clumps and even though I coated the clumps with a thin layer of sulfur I'm afraid some of the tubers may not have dried enough and it was a nice breeding ground for the fungus. Even with the vermiculite which puzzles me. Should I try again with my different bag of peat moss and pack them in tighter in the buckets minding I don't break any necks? I'd rather not leave them out any longer than tomorrow evening. Next year I'm definitely working on dividing them and trying out the plastic wrap approach because I'm annoyed I'm spending this much time with them right now.

Boise, ID

I guess I'm not really looking for approval on the things I'm suggesting for myself to do, I'm just waiting to see if anyone jumps in and says "No, that's a horrible idea!" and then proceeds to tell me why.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Above all else, you need to address the freezing temperature thing. No matter what you pack them in, if they freeze hard, they're goners.

Boise, ID

Fortunately it won't get to the point of freezing in my garage unless I leave my door open; at its worst gets to the mid-thirties.

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

I wrap mine in the self sticking plastic wrap. It worked really well last year so look forward to it working this year.

This message was edited Feb 2, 2010 2:48 PM

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

NO NO EDEWITT THAT'S A HORRIBLE IDEA!!!! Totally just kiddin ^_^ There are no 'horrible ideas'. It sounds like you are working through some good methods to find the one that is perfect for you!

makshi um it's not a good idea to wrap yourself in selfsticking plastic wrap. You are not a tuber. You could suffocate. Although if you've done it before???

Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

dahlianut very funny :)

Thumbnail by makshi
W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Poochella - I have been going through the nursery list looking for Painted Lady - it's beautiful - and haven't been able to find one. Would you mind telling me where you bought yours? I really would appreciate it - all this looking is giving me neck pain.

Thank you very much.

Boise, ID

As far as I know Clack's Dahlia Patch carries that tuber and I'd definitely recommend them for buying tubers through. Ginger Clack provides great service and tubers.

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

edewitt - Thank you so much for the information. I went to their wedsite and, yes, they do have Painted Lady...also others that I was thinking about. I've e-mailed them about when they start taking 2011 orders. Good prices too.

Thanks again!

Boise, ID

You're welcome, let me know what she says I'd love to see what updates they have for their dahlia list and order some things I'm wanting to grow for this next year.

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Just received an e-mail from Ginger, and she says:

" We should have our new list up on the Web in about a week maybe sooner.
You can place your order any time."

I hope you'll be able to find the ones that you want for next year. I just wish that I had more sun so that I could plant more.


Noblesville, IN(Zone 5a)

This is Makshis son, Andy.

My mom had several Dahlias, and I dug them up.
The tubors seem really dry now.
I put them in water for a bit, but if they are dry and a tad shriveled, will they come back?
My mom loved them, and I want to save them, I just hope I am not too late.

Thank you. :)

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Andy I am so sorry for your loss. Your mom was a dear woman and a wonderful member of this forum. If the tubers are only a little shrivelled they might be ok. Try misting them with water every few weeks while they are stored so they don't shrivel anymore. Hope this helps.

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