Dahlia Planting and Propagation

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

This is a sticky so that our planting and propagation ideas can be shared by everyone.

Thumbnail by doss
Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Your pretty pink almost looks like Chilson's Pride.

I like to grow from seed to see what I can get. I buy my seed from Swan Island. Didn't do any this year though.I have heard you can take cuttings.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Good eye! Chilson's Pride with oranges.

Does anyone have ideas about how deep you plant? I've heard that you should plant deeper in hot areas. Also, what do you mulch with? Has anyone tried alfalfa?
Here's one link to ideas about propagation.

http://www.dahlias.net/dahwebpg/Propagation/Cuttings.htm

At the bottom of the page there are three links. One of them leads to how to take cuttings.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Hi Dorothie,

I didn't plant deep at all. We do have our hot spells but normally we're in the 70's. Some are planted with daylilies, etc. around them so the lower leaves will (hopefully) keep the bottom of the dahlias shaded and cool. Those that are in hotter areas of the gardens are planted deeper than the others. Reminds me of, "This is a test, only a test" for those alert systems on radio.

I don't mulch because we have exceptional soil.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

You do have great soil - I've seen that beautiful black stuff. I'm jealous!

Oklahoma City, OK(Zone 7a)

Wow. That link was unbelievable. I need to try some of this. Not sure if it's too hot now, though.

Seattle, WA(Zone 8a)

I have a question: Is it really better to wait until spring to divide? I know it's August now, and in fact ours are just getting started here. But I'm wondering if I can dig and divide/pot just before frost. Is there any reason why I should not? I do understand that each tuber has to have at least one eye in order to make it.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

I think it's just easier to see the eye in the spring because it has started to grow. I've never divided in the fall.

Mason, MI(Zone 5b)

I planted Dahlia seed in the spring and got one to flower but I do not think that the Dahlia has made a tuber. In that event how would one be able to save this for the spring. The site shows how to do the tuber. Any ideas?
thanks Pam

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

pinky100,
This fall, you can dig after a frost or it dies down and you will see a tuber, I bet. Sure, you can save it for the next spring to plant again.
Carol

Mason, MI(Zone 5b)

daisyruffles thanks for the reply. On Sunday I went out and fertilized it well and gave it more water. Maybe it will grow into a big boy before fall weather is here. :) I will see what happens.

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Don't worry if it isn't big. Small tubers with eyes have done really well by me. Isn't it amazing that those huge plants come out of those tiny brown things?

Doesn't hurt to take good care of it though.

Mason, MI(Zone 5b)

Hi doss,
The problem is mine is not all that huge. That is why I am wondering if it has a tuber at all. I did get one flower and it is nice size but the stalk is not all that thick. :)

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

The tubers can be as big as your little finger and still function. The size of the stalk is generally determined by the cultivar. I have some that have huge stems and some that have much smaller stems and it hasn't really mattered what size the tuber is. One vendor sends smaller tubers generally but the plants behave the same. Some cultivars behave better than others too. I've had some take off and be happy and some struggle. If you love this one, I'd suggest potting it for the winter instead of lifting it. I find that they do much better the second year in the ground here.

If you got a plant then you had an eye.

The exception I have found so far is a tree dahlia which have pretty huge tubers.

Mason, MI(Zone 5b)

doss, thanks so much for the information. I will pot it up then for the winter. :)

Stanford, CA(Zone 9b)

Just take it's pot somewhere where it won't freeze. I feel stupid telling you this. Silly coming from a Californian. Duh.

Mason, MI(Zone 5b)

LOL, well thanks a bunch.

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

If I want to pot up a tuber for the winter, do I go ahead and let it freeze down before digging up the tuber and then put it in a pot? Will it start growing over winter or wait until spring? Should it be in a coll place where it does not freeze? How much should it be watered? Can you tell I've never overwintered any before?

Susan

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

Wow, that's a lot of questions! lol Wish I had all the answers for you. I've never overwintered any either though. I think you would want to store it in a place where the temp stays pretty much the same....not too warm, but not too cold. I know you don't have to water them if you store them without potting them, so I would think that you wouldn't want to water it if it was potted either. I would think that if you watered it, it would rot. Just my 2 cents worth.....anybody else have any ideas????

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Susan, If you are going to pot up the tuber, you need to put it into the cool (no freezing) garage to just rest for the winter. No water.
If I were you, don't pot it up. Just dig up the tuber and put it in like peat moss, sawdust, in a box, and then plant it in a big pot or the ground next spring. An eye should form in the late winter/early spring for you.
Carol

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

Thanks Carol. My problem is my garage is not heated and anything in it will freeze. I'm hoping I can block off the vents in one of my basement bedrooms to get it cool enough. Last winter, I did not do very well overwintering cannas.

Susan

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi! People,

Where is the best place to get advice on my dahlias? I was given two dahlia tubers this spring (Arabian Nights, I think). I planted them next to each other. One grew about four feet high and the other one grew about eighteen inches high. The tall one kept falling over as if I had planted it too shallow. Can you advise me so this doesn't happen next year? I pruned back the tall plant as it was horizontal on the ground. Now it has more blooms. In Southern California, what do I have to do to "winterize" my dahlias? If I decide to move them to another area in the yard, when is the best time to do so? Sorry about all the questions but prior to growing these dahias, I really didn't know what they were and I am just learning. Thanks, Chuck

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Hi Chuck and others,
There is a virtual treasure trove of information and how-to photos about aspects of dahlia care at this website.
http://www.dahlias.net/

Everything you need to know is there, with the possible exception of hot climate growing/storing. I wish someone would add that, as it seems to be a frecuent question on various sites.

Chuck you really ought to stake or support those tall dahlias. They are just to mammoth especially when laden with blooms to be expected to stay upright on their own. Some people use stake and ties, some use the modified upside down tomato cages. The only ones I don't stake are 2 ft tall or less; I'm just not willing to lose the flowers to a big rain or wind! See the link for other great tips under "Care and Culture."

Randolph, MA(Zone 5a)

Can you please tell me how /when to dig up my beautiful dahlias. They are still blooming and beautiful. Thanks for the help.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

After the frost kills the foliage and the leaves have turned black and icky.
I do mine here in Oregon in late Nov. I don't when you guys in Maine get cold so...
Keep enjoying them while you can!
Carol

Keene, NH(Zone 5a)

i always find threads way after they have started- but being a new england person who grows way too many dahlias (100+) for cut flowers, i have tried all sorts of methods- difinitely wait till frost has killed the foliage to dig them- i've read that the colder soil temperature helps to toughen the skin of the bulbs so they get through the winter better- so i leave them in the ground after the leaves and stems have turned black for about a week or so- then dig. the dahlia world seems to be divided as to whether to divide the tubers in the fall or the spring- though i've usually done it in the spring, this year i'm going to try in the fall, because i just have too many to store..... i store mine in a cool cellar(maybe 50 degrees) in boxes filled with sawdust- seems to work alright for me..

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Yep, sjms, you do very similar to what I do. Tho I am going to try dividing them in the fall too this year. I also do not have room to store them all. I am using sawdust from the cabinet shop and it works just fine for me too.
I haven't seen any pictures from your garden on your dahlias. You need to let us all here on DG see them! We always would love the pictures!
Carol

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi Everyone,
I bought these off of ebay. Someone please tell me what to do with them. Should I pull them apart? Does each one make a dahlia? Thanks
I've got about 10 clumps, packaged in clear plastic wrap. Should I pull them out of the plastic?

Crystal

Thumbnail by crystalnurse
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Crystal, you should keep them cool but not wet, and don't let them dry out in too much heat. If you just want to grow them for yourself, then don't pull them apart. The tubers should be planted 'down', there should be an old stalk on the top which should be placed at the top just below the surface. Each piece should have a growing 'eye' but this won't always be obvious until they start growing. I would normally start mine off in March when it warms up, in a cold greenhouse, but it depends a lot on your own climate. Be careful with the water when it's cold, they will rot.

If you wanted to increase them, they can be separated, laid on their sides pushed half-way into a free draining moist compost, and left in a light, warmish place to make shoots, which can be cut off, rooted and grown on. There is a link somewhere about that, i will find it if I can and post the link. This shouldn't really be started anyway until February.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

If you look at the 3rd posting at the top, Doss has posted the propogation link

janet

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

So just plant it like it is? Don't pull them apart?

Crystal

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Thank you, I didn't see that.

Crystal

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Yes crystal, if you are new to growing them I would just plant them as they are, that is what you would normally do unless wanting to propogate. They will get bigger and make better tubers, it's the overwintering you might have trouble with, but I am lucky, I can leave mine in the ground.

Keene, NH(Zone 5a)

crystal- just want to repeat : don't try to start these now! get them in the fridge so they don't dry out- six weeks or so before planting time, you can start them in pots, to get a jump on the season- for me that's april.....

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Is it better to put them in the refrig instead of the basement? My basement is about 50 degrees. Thanks

Crystal

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Hi Crystal, I've never heard of an entire clump wrapped in plastic other than a grovery type bag with some other media inside: vermicultie or shavings, possibly peat. The idea of plastic wrap for an individual tuber is to maintain its moisture content, prevent shrivel/drying so it emerges in Spring in healthy condition to be replanted.

50 degrees is top of the range for storing. 35-45 being ideal. People have had luck storing in the veggie bin of a fridge, but you have to make sure the humidity isn't too high or low, but I don't know what that would involve. I've never done it.

I'd store them in as cold a room as you could find in your basement, or outdoor building that doesn't freeze, as a clump with or without plastic wrap but in something that will prevent moisture loss such as shavings. Check them every couple weeks, and if they seem dry or shrivelled mist the storage medium with some water and stir it up a little bit to disperse that moisture. Your tuber clump looks pretty healthy to me, not the tiniest bit shrivelled and I think I see an eye!
That must be the underside of the clump? Is there a stalk visible on the other side?

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Hi Pouch,
I think I will check and see what the temp is in the garage, just might be a little cooler in there.
Yes, there is a stalk on the clump. I guess this is good? Thanks for all the info.

Crystal

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Is the removal from the soil of the tubers necessary? I left mine in the soil and after our first big rain, they started leaves already. The two plants look really healthy. As I have mentioned in other posts, our winter has been exceptionally warm this year. The passion vines are blooming now also.

Take care,

Chuck

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Chuck, lucky you! I also leave mine in the ground, but they might start shooting in March, not so warm here. They do get a good head start though, and I'm always watching heart in mouth for them to get late frosts, so far we have had light late frosts but they haven't been scorched, perhaps sheltered.

If tubers are lifted, and there is soil on them, it isn't really necessary to take all soil off, just knock off excess. The only time I would think is necessary to remove all soil is if they have been bought in, and there is suspicion of contamination from disease. They can then be washed and dusted with a preparation to protect against diseases, but I can't give you a particular name on that.

My passion vine, p. caurulea has a lot of green leaves and unmade buds, but too cold now for flowers, I bet you wish you had some cold weather so you appreciate the warm again? ONLY joking!

janet

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Geez, Chuck, already have leaves?!
Don't I wish!
We are just like Janet and will get shoots coming up later in the spring, not now. Enjoy them then.
As for taking the dirt off, I do like to take the soil off because some of it could get trapped in-between the tubers and it will stay too wet there for me. But you may be drier so...
People dust with sulfur on the tubers, Janet.
I don't do that tho a lot of other people do.
Carol

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