Dahlias - Summer's End/Storage 2014

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Well, 2014 is coming to a close for our dahlias. But we have orders to make and plants to store. So there are still many topics to carry on with. For newbies and oldies alike, there is much to share.

Mentor, OH

Mary, It's so nice of you to look out for your neighbors. I feel good when I hear there are people who still think of others. In our "me" and "I" society that is becoming rare. Thank you!

Nanny, you mentioned about digging tubers. I wait until the frost has darkened the foliage and then cut off the stalks, leaving about 6" for a handle. I put sandwich bags over the open stalks held with a rubber band. Amazing how much water the stalks can hold. I dig a week or two later. If I was going to store in clumps, I would turn them upside down for a day to completely drain any remaining water. That is a problem area for rot when storing clumps. Since I divide, I don't worry about that.

We had on and off showers all day yesterday. Windy, dark and dreary. I was about an hours drive from home and the time and temp on a bank showed 54 degrees at 1:00 pm. That same weather is continuing today. Don't know if I have any new blooms. I have a few that have buds opening. I hope this cool weather doesn't shut them completely down like a couple that didn't bloom last year.

Franklin, OH(Zone 6a)

Oh good to know what an Ohioan is supposed to do! This will be my first attempt at overwintering.

Saturday a few friends are driving down to Hillsboro to see a Dahlia garden. I'm excited! I hope he has Ottos Thrill and Kelvin Floodlight so I can experience them in person!c

Both of those will HAVE to become a part of my garden for next year. You all have shown such beautiful dahlias on the thread that it's hard to choose my beginning must have order. Wish I could have them all but money and space says no can do!!

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

finally a beautiful dinner plate size dahlia bloom!

Show n Tell

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Gorgeous. I had that last year but it never bloomed and never made it through the winter. Guess I should try again.

Mentor, OH

Beautiful bloom! My two S'nTs have barely opened, just enough to see a little color. Hopefully, they'll open up next week. They were late bloomers last year.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Which explains why they never made it up here. Not enough time.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

My wife and I were at a wedding Sunday and all the flower arrangements had dahlias. Here are a couple pics. I really like the dark purple/burgundy ones.

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Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Impressive!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Gorgeous arrangements. Such a wonderful selection of flowers and colors. Makes me want to get married again!! NOT. Twice is enough. lol

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Lol, you could save the money and just make the arrangements yourself :) When my wife and I got married, it was out of season for most things and she wanted roses so that's what we went with.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

We were married on Dec 21, the shortest day of the year, and in Alaska that means shooorrrttt. Like 4 hours long. Talk about out of season.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Lol, I guess flowers would be pretty expensive up there at that time of year.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Got some new pics!
New Dimension ( first year-first bloom!)
Kelvin's Floodlight has outdone itself this year.
Thomas Edison
Autumn Joy Sedum
Neon Sedum
With Dinnerplates, do the blooms usually start small on new plants and then get larger as the tubers grow every season? I can't remember if KF Sarted out that way. It is huge now.

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Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

That 3rd pic looks nice with the solidago!

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

It was a pleasant accident that they ended up side by side. Lol I really didn't plan it that way.

Mentor, OH

Jeff, your photos show that someone has good taste in flowers. lol A while back I noticed the name of your hometown and remembered that years ago I worked with a guy from there. Can't remember his name. I googled Lititz to see where it was located. I saw that Lititz was named "America's Coolest Small Town." Congrats!

Great blooms, Nanny! I realize everyone has their own taste in flowers, but could never understand how someone could have a garden without KFL. I consider it a staple. lol In regard to bloom size, the first round always seem a little smaller than the next round of blooms. Mine seem to peak in late August and then progressively bloom smaller. The Bonaventure I posted earlier maxxed out at 11" which is pretty typical. The more recent blooms are more like 6"- 8". Same with the KFL. I don't know if it's caused by the cooler weather or maybe the tubers underground are losing energy. What I found really strange is the Bonaventure in one of the sunniest beds along the driveway hasn't had blooms bigger than 6" all year. I think it all goes back to what Mary mentioned about the health of the tubers coming out of storage. They may look good when we plant them but that may not tell the whole story.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Lol, yeah it's the coolest small town alright. Everyone is fairly proud of that.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

This is the first year for Snow Country and the first bloom was huge, almost ludicrously so as the plant was only slightly more than twice the height of the bloom. I don't think the blooms are any bigger in following years. They grow to what they should be from the get go unless the tubers are unhealthy. At least that is my take on it after a few years of growing dahlias and storing them over winter.

OH, and your dahlias are lovely. So nice to see new ones. Mine are about spent and the incessant rain isn't going them any good. Especially those whose stems seem to become spindlier with each new bloom. And I pinch buds big time to encourage new blooms in the time we have here. Not much good if they are hanging upside down on tiny stems.

This message was edited Sep 16, 2014 8:31 AM

Mentor, OH

Mary, we're getting our share of rain, too. We had another hard rain last night. A lot of blooms are hanging their heads. I have a couple new ones that started to open and for some reason just shut down and haven't budged for several days. Maybe it's the damp, cool weather. The blooms seem smaller this time of year but the colors seem brighter. I snapped a few photos before these get blown down.

1) Vancouver
2) Clair Obscur
3) Red Emperor. I love these oddballs.
4) HH 6-in-1. Another oddball with very little red and white. Never seen this before.
5) Mom's Special. This one is over 10".

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I love all of these. You have such wonderful taste in color and form. Mom's special is indeed very special. I can see by your wrist how large the blossom is. And the shade of red/orange? on Red Emperor is beautiful. Can't quite pin down the shade.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I like that red emperor. I wish we were getting rain. The last 6 weeks or so have been dry.

Mentor, OH

Actually it is a dark red. My camera doesn't photo red or sometimes purple very well.
I've been moaning and groaning all year about had badly I botched up the labeling when I planted the tubers this spring. As each new bloom opens and I check my chart, I can see the problem wasn't so much my fault but rather the vendors sending the wrong tubers. It's easier to see when there are multiples of particular variety and all just happen to be planted in the wrong place according to my chart. The first photo is supposed to be Otto's Thrill. Obviously it isn't. The vendor sells what appears to be this exact dahlia and it's named Lilac Time. The second photo is supposed to be Babylon Red. No Way. But they (different vendor) do sell Babylon Purple. When considering all the other mis-labels I received this year, I may have been beating myself up for nothing. Never had a problem to this extent. Has anyone else ever experienced a problem like this when buying any type of flowers?

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I think we have all received 'mystery' flowers from time to time. Not on the scale you have but the order of magnitude of your orders to (at least) mine would certainly increase the chance of vendor error. I have two out of maybe 15 I ordered that are incorrect. and one that is the correct color but the form is entirely wrong. They claim that the first bloom or two in their fields are orchid form, then full decorative. I have never heard of this and all three of my blooms on Delicado were the skimpy form. If it survives the winter, we shall see next year. I would be so frustrated and aggravated were I you I would send notes to all those vendors and indicate that while you order large volumes none in the future will be from them due to their lax quality control.

and you are right. You are pretty meticulous in your planting and identification and you couldn't be wrong that often.

Mentor, OH

I will contact the vendors after I dig the tubers in November. About 90% of the time I can still see the name printed on the mother tuber or clump. I'll wait and make sure I know what I'm talking about before I say anything. Chances are the vendors who sell those pre-packaged tubers from Holland have no idea what they're selling. So no quality control at all. Just buy and sell. Nothing more than middlemen. The flip side of all this is that I think in a lot of cases, I like the ones they sent more than the ones I ordered. lol I just don't like the idea of them maybe thinking they're getting away with something.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I see your point. Not all the tubers I get have any identification on them. sometimes they are in individual bags -- seems like. Alan Lowe uses a numbering system though and sends a sheet listing what the name if that corresponds to the number on the tuber. I have never been able to write in any manner on the tubers. Probably means they are too damp.

Mentor, OH

I can't remember what kind of marker I used but I know those fine point Sharpies will really tear the tubers outer skin if they are even slightly damp.

When I get new tubers, I print the name on each one as soon as I open the box or bag, whether it's a clump or an individual tuber. Even if there is a number on it I still print the name. I try to keep the possibility of mistakes on my end as low as I can. But as seen, it can still happen.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Ah. Good idea. I have got to get the garage cleaned up from summer 'home improvement' projects, fishing trips (dipnetting), bales of soil and compost, tools, etc and get ready for the big 'dig'. I think lots of forethought and preparation will lead to better results. Brilliant idea, huh?? lol. What do you lay your clumps and then tubers on to let them dry? I have a few screens but not any where near enough. I may built a few more with larger mesh for the clumps but then need more of the finer mesh for the tubers once cut. And also, of course, to buy the medium to store them in.

Mentor, OH

I have a couple of hard plastic toboggan type sleds. They are about 5'-6' long. I mostly use them to haul deer out of the woods. I turn the clumps upside down on newspapers and pull the sleds into my tool shed. I like to let them dry for a couple of days and then divide. To my way of thinking, the most important part of the drying process is after the dividing. That's when the air can get to all sides of the tubers. Hard to do when they are in a tight clump. I dry another day after dividing and then dust all cut areas with garden sulphur. I know some people use cinnamon but I've always used sulphur so I won't change. I may dry one additional day this year so the outside is completely dry. I hurried the process last year and I think that may have lead to some rotting. I've had tubers shrivel in the past but I've very seldom lost any to rot.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

So do you lay your cut tubers on newspapers to dry also?

Mentor, OH

I put the cut tubers on pieces of cardboard or in cardboard boxes. It's much easier to move dozens of them at a time than trying to move them on flimsy newspaper. I separate them by variety and print the name on them IMMEDIATELY when they're dry enough. lol I don't trust my memory and I'm not good at guessing games. Most of the time they are dry enough to label as I divide.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I have a silly question. How do you know when and Where to divide the tubers?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Thanks Dan.

Mentor, OH

Not a silly question at all, Nanny. At the top of the dahlia forum page is a thread titled "Dahlia Resource Threads." If you scroll down a short ways, you'll see a thread "Member's Favorite Threads." Click on the one that says "Poochella's Digging and Dividing." She (Annie) is a former member of this site and knows everything about dahlias. Her instructions and photos will explain the process far better and easier than I ever could. There are also many videos on the internet if you google "Dividing dahlias."

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

psudan-Thanks! I will check that out. While I am not new to gardening, I am new to the specific care of Dahlias. I have been doing OK with storing them, but it never hurts to compare notes.
I haven't divided mine, on purpose, that is. I have divided a few accidentally while digging them up. lol I am sure there is a better way.

Mentor, OH

I think the cool weather has really slowed blooming. Show 'n Tell began opening about ten days ago and is still less than 50% open. I have several more plants budding and half a dozen that don't even have buds yet. I'm not counting on them for this year but hopefully they'll make new tubers.

1) Orange Globe. Starting to form a nice ball shape.
20 Flapjack. Close to fully open.
3) ?? I don't even know where it came from. Looks like Polly Kaye.
4) Inland Dynasty. 10" wide. I love the color, form and size of this one.
5) Danum Meteor. Over 10". Like most AA dahlias, not many blooms.

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Mentor, OH

Nanny, I had to laugh because I have accidentally divided many clumps, especially the first couple years I dug them. Come to think of it, I still occasionally cut some tubers in half. It's hard for a lot of people to imagine how big the clumps have grown since they were planted in the spring. Some are absolutely huge. I dig in a much bigger circle now. lol

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

I will try to remember to dig in a bigger circle. Thanks! But when things are planted close together it can be hard to avoid cutting something in two. :/

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

It's hard to imagine that you have over 100 of these beauties all in one yard. It must be like the largest bouquet in the world. lol And impossible to choose a favorite. Each one is so unique and offers a totally different prospect.

I bought a garden fork thing thinking that I would be less likely to cut up tubers but found no matter what I use I need so slowly loosen the earth or just the movement of a clump of dirt will cause some large tubers to just snap. I guess it is further made difficult as mine are very close together.

Mount Sterling, KY(Zone 6b)

Btw You have some awesome Dahlias there psudan! Do you grow strictly dahlias or have you got other plants too? 100 dahlias is a lot to have to dig and store.

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