More Newbie Q's

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Another thourough check of my tubers in storage revealed a lot of mush. RIP to Pat Feary, Arabian Night, Haley Jane, and about 5 NOIDS.

On the other hand, I have a few tubers beginning to eye up, and putting forth white roots!!!

My question: do I pot up the tubers showing growth? I feel as if they would rot if I pack them away again. Too early??

Also, I closely inspected the clumps I bought on the cheap from Costco. With some careful cutting, (being mindful of my recent experience with knives; I just got my stitches out--yow) I probably could get more than one or two divisions from each clump. Should I attempt that now, or wait until they're put into the ground?

FYI Everyone!!! HD just rolled out the dahlias! At least here... they have one called "Sky Angel"- it does not appear on any database I can find, but it looks gorgeous. Has anyone heard of it? It is being sold in single clumps (OF COURSE I bought one; in the name of research!)

And this is perplexing: why is Vassio Meggos so expensive? It's always double the cost of the other tubers in each grower's inventory. It's a beautiful flower; not a lot of incurved out there.

Thank you all!


Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Don't feel bad Melissa. Or, feel bad if you want to LOL; but I just lost the last one of my beloved Clearview Davids. Some of them just don't keep well or fate has intervened- choose your poison.

I think it's too early to pot up back there unless you want to try getting some cuttings (read all about it at Or you can pot the rooting ones up but you'll get pretty spindly by the time April rolls around, I bet.

Why do you think they will rot if store them again? Can you try another medium for storage?

Don't know on Vassio Meggos' higher cost: probably because it's so hard to spell. I saw Haley Janes in quantity outside our grocery store today!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Awww - and I wanted to see pics of Pat Feary - always on my long list to get.

For any tougher divisions I like to start them and divide once they get shoots, the ones with roots and eyes sound too early to start - darker and colder storage if possible I guess.

I certainly saw Vassio Meggos everywhere when shopping - I don't recall how new it is, the price should drop. There are other ones similar I believe.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Annie, I don't know why I think the sprouts will rot. I guess, after the spell the tubers had in the stores, they were fooled into thinking it was spring, so putting them in my cool, dark basement might cause them to damp off.

Too early to pot up? Hhhmm... It's almost March! I couldn't believe it when I looked at the calender. That would be 8 weeks until April, when I could sun them in a cold frame during the day. I'm just anxious to "get growing"-- good thing someone invented winter sowing (didn't nature invent it it about a billion years ago???); I can stick last year's perennial seeds outdoors in some dirt, and I've planted me a garden!!!

I LOVE that cuttings site. I should go for it. What's the worst that could happen? The worst that could happen is that I wind up with a million dahlias and no more space to put them ;-) !!!

Al, WHERE DO YOU SHOP??? I would die if I saw a relatively new dahlia in retail stores... I feel like I shouldn't buy any more dahlias (I just counted; I have about 75 on order and at least 50 tubers in my basement) but I'm disappointed about poor Pat, too. I have a feeling a new Haley Jane will turn up in a store.

I have another deep concern. If you have Babylon Red and Babylon Purple, do the dahlia police arrest you if you don't get Babylon Bronze, too? I don't think I like the darker yellows. One I noticed was called "Dijon". Now, I love Dijon mustard, but I really don't think it's the greatest color for a flower, IMHO. Gimme pink, purple, and lavender!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Dahlia police LOL! I like the deeper yellows in autumn, right next to reds and oranges. I like the brighter, medium, and paler yellows too, come to think of it. I've never met a dahlia color I DIDN'T like. Except Pole Position. Sullied/dirty yellow center on an otherwise vibrant purple and white. And Foxy Lady looks dull here too: not enough sun for what others grow as a pretty flower. Mine is dull and dingy.

Jax, how big are those shoots anyway? If I were you, fully armed with a cold frame, I would cut off the shoots if they're ~3inches tall, pot them up as cuttings as per the directions at, and then get your tubers back in storage to a cooler and darker location as Al suggested. The tubers will almost always send out more shoots- they want to live no matter how hard we try to destroy them!

I am just completely bummed over Clearview David rotting.... one of my faves from last year. Can I stand to place one more dahlia order and limit myself to just that one?

Thumbnail by Poochella
Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I like the yellow to orange colored ones plenty.

I meant shopping online for VM, I ordered Sir Alf Ramsey which is close enough for me. No dahlias in stores here for a month yet.

Annie - bummer on the Clearview David

Bath, NY(Zone 5b)

Never happen Annie! I was doing very good and not ordering much when my DH came in and said " Oh I like that, did you get that one" I said sure if you want it. When I got done I showed him the list that HE created, "start cutting the order I just don't have room. Well you know I could till up a bed in the side yard if you want." The order went out and I got a new dahlia bed . Pretty good timing on my part don't ya think. More than one way to skin a cat as they say.

I check my tubers today and they are all in great shape. Had a few that were sprouted a bit so off to the greenhouse they go. I'm starting the greenhouse up in the morning so I should have some dahlia's going soon. Some that had slight sprouts, I just bundled them back up and they should be fine. Did that last year and it worked , so I just told them to wait their turn!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Man oh man Willow! When you're done with your tiller-owning, dahlia loving hubby, could I please have him??? He can keep his veggie garden and you get more flower space: what a mutually agreeable solution. Buono!

Here's Vassio Meggos: a beauty! I didn't realize it was kin to Spartacus. Lovely wavering petals.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Vessio is so gorgeous!!! But twice as much. Weird. It makes me want it all the more!!!

Annie, the sprouts are really small, so I decided against potting for now (!). I just went through all the tubers and adjusted water/ventillation needs. It took me all evening! The clumps have stem portions that were rotting; I cut them off.

BTW, Red Hawk sent lovely tubers packed in shavings and dusted with something powdery. Half of the tubers are the size of sweet potatoes, and half are tiny and spindley. I came to the reasoning that the big tubers shouldn't be kept in as high humidity as the little guys. I removed the small ones and placed them in sterile, damp peat/potting soil; they'll have to be checked regularly. The sweet potatoes are probably just fine in their plastic bag w/shavings. Is my highly scientific conclusion correct? Big tubers = more moisture= more chance of rot; little tuber=less water=more chance of drying. Thus, 2 methods of storage.... right?

What is NOT HELPING is this dang weather. 47 degrees one day, 19 the next!

This message was edited Feb 24, 2007 4:33 PM

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Just some comments. Once a tuber starts to sprout it's hard to stop it. What will happen if you put it back in storage it will continue to grow. You then have a long spindely white sprout that will be almost imposible to grow straight. The growth can be held up in a cold area but be very careful of frezing. If you bench up now and transfer to 6-8" pot in a few weeks it will be fine. Do be sure when you pot up there is a good amount of sun or grow lights to prevent stragley plants. Benched up pot rots today for cutings--it will be good to se some green.
On the high price of Vassio Meggos. This is supply and demand. This son of SPARACTUS has done very well on the show bench and thus is in great demand. Just think if you were into daylily's some go for over $100 each.

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Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi Steve,

What zone are you?

I never could figure out why daylilies are so absurdly priced. Who spends $100 on a flower that is no good in a vase? Plus there is nothing at all interesting about the flower at all! I like big, fluffy blooms, like peonies and old roses; luckily, dahlias have every form imaginable on less fussy plants with a longer growing season. I regard daylilies as a groundcover only. Ow, Ouch!! I feel the daggers from the daylily folk!!!

Your comment about the tubers being hard to stop growing... I have images in my head about waking up one morning covered in foliage.. the tubers have sprouted through the basement floor and up the stairs..!!!

A dahlia musing: I visited the wholesale Langeveld web b/c the dahlia page has lovely pix. The statement Langeveld makes to its retailers is "We feel the dahlia is underused by gardeners" (In other words, push the inventory!) I wondered why this may be.. and I realized, because dahlias have so many forms, the casual gardner who just wants a few flowers doesn't know it's a dahlia!!! They assume it's a marigold, cosmos, rose, daisy, peony, whatever!

Great photo. Are they yours?

Bath, NY(Zone 5b)

Jax4ever, I think the average gardener, flower planter I should say, just like to go to the local nursery and pick up flats that are already in flower. If you mention growing dahlia's to this sort of gardener, they don't want to dig them up and not interested in learning how to plant them and of course they don't want to wait for the plant to flower. They think they are just to much work and because they are so beautiful they must be hard to grow. To so many people gardening is WORK, to me it is pure pleasure.

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)


Yes, the picture is mine. This was a dahlia basket display at the National show in Seatle WA. I live on Long Island and we have 2 zones and I am just on the edge of both -makes for fun. To our friend from Bath. What you say is all too true but consider this. Why not treat dahlias as an annual, if digging is all that is stopping them from growing. Dahlias are cheap enough so you can buy new each year. I also note that many garden centers are featuring dahlias in bloom. I have planted last Wed in pots in the greenhouse 40 dahlias these are low growing fully double dahlias like the picture at the end of this measage. They will be in bloom in 9 weeks. This puts them in bloom say the last week in April and then into the garden or containers say about May 15th -- This is about as early as I can get dahlia blooms.

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Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Gorgeous flowers, Steve!

Which begs a question... how do you get flowers across the country??? I mean, I'm sure you can fly them over, but how do you keep them looking good after baggage handlers have got their mitts on them?

Are you new to Dave's? How long have you been growing/showing?

People don't realize that they don't HAVE to dig the tubers! It is STILL cheaper than buying 1 and 2 gallon nursery containers in full bloom. We only dig them b/c we enjoy the challenge! Plus, we are stingy, have no lives, and actually ENJOY obsessing over box after box of shriveled brown roots with names like "Netterbob" carefully written on them ;-)

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Steve D welcome!

I was privileged enough to get to see that wonderful basket display at the National Show in Seattle and I also want to know how you managed to get them cross country in such good shape, or did you use local flowers? It was a marvelous show: table after table of wonderful dahlias and creative arrangements.

Jax, Good news on the Red Hawk report and thanks for taking the time to put them in the Watchdog. Never underestimate the power of a tiny tuber. They can be just as potent as the big ones- it just varies from variety to variety.

I have to get out there and check mine again......I'm getting itchy to get started here with all this talk of blooms.

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

In review a couple of mistakes. The basket display was not at the National but the week before at Snohomish DS. With a FF points I upgraded to first class and took 2 boxes of flowers on boad with me. The furtherest basket to the right on the bottom row was my basket of RIVAL a 2" MS dahlia with 14 blooms in the basket. Won Best in section but not Best Basket in Show. We flew out a week early to see all the beautiful gardens on the tour. Loking forward to 2009. Snohomish is hosting the National show it's their 100 anv show. If you are in the area do yourself a favor and spend some time at the show to see over 2000 of the NW's best dahlias.
One year I flew show flowers to Calif. and the handlers destroyed them. This year National show is in Chicago and I will post details as soon as available. The best is yet to come, 2008 the National show will be held at Longwood Gardends just south of Phila. This is a must for anyone who hasn't been to this heaven.
Picture Best 3 small laceniated dahlias National show 2006 -Planting Fields Oyster Bay NY- HANNAH BAKER named for my grandaughter-my entry and my origination.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Beautiful! How small is Hannah Baker, the flower?

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Steve, I am so impressed!
My DH would have me put away if I took flowers first-class. But, the handlers have to inspect everything these days (flower bombs!).
Do you have a profession beyond gardening? Are you going to visit us here at the MassHort show? I know, no dahlias that I know of.
You realize at least I am going to pester you to death on this board!!!

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Hanah Barker grows about 5.5" in dia. maybe 6" The ones in the picture were 6".
Yes, I will be visiting the Mass Hort show need to visit with Jeff Lowenfelds author of "Teaming with Microbs"
I am retired --I started a business that recycles worn out solid industrial tires. My son runs the business now and I pester about once a week.
I will start a thread today on benching up tubers, pot rots and taking cuttings. This will have pictures and hopefully will answer questions.
Picture: SNOHO DORIS Ball dahlia --Best 3 ball entry 2006 National show

Thumbnail by Steve_D
Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

We on the dahlia forum are so lucky to have you here! Spoiled rotten! (Not unlike some of my tubers.)

I'd love to say "Hi!" at the Flower Show. Is Jeff Lowenfelds speaking, or having a workshop? As far as I'm concerned, you are a rock star; consider me a groupie!

While I'm thinking about it, I'd like for you to start a thread about fertilizing for dahlias. Since we'll be preparing our beds soon enough, I'd like some advice on soil testing and amendments. There is plenty of advice out there about what NOT to add (Nitrogen). Lots of conflicting info on what to add (hello, Swan Island!). There are testing kits sold everywhere from $1.99 at the big boxes to $$$ at specialty web sites.

One q that is bugging me is: If I go low on Nitrogen, how will that effect my choice of groundcover and other plants near my dahlias? Crimson clover is sold as a ground cover, but it is very high in Nitrogen.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

willow - maybe we could compromise and call gardening "happy work"? It beats scrubbing floors and bathrooms!

Jax - ouch! As the mother of 1,364 of our own hybrid daylilies your comment stings! I hope you were just teasing us daylily lovers. :-)

From what I've read on fertilizing dahlias we can feed them "normal" fertilizers until June and then cut back on the nitrogen to force more flowers than foliage. Steve can tell us what he uses and when and why.

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Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Sorry, pirl! I do have lots of daylilies; I just enjoy flowers that can be cut and brought inside. I have a less than full-sun slope that would be perfect for daylilies, but it takes them so long to establish themselves-- I hate delayed gratification, especially when it comes to flowers. You're catching me in a particularly cranky phase when it comes to daylilies; in the fall of '05 I planted over 100 roots of purple/pink varieties (to the tune of $500+) and ONLY ONE has ever bloomed. I have had some stringy foliage from about 12 others; no blooms.

Gee, what flower is inexpensive to buy, easy to plant, will bloom the first year, produce enough blooms for garden and cutting, and isn't a pest-magnet or deer-food....?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Except for the slugs and Japanese beetles that adore Dahlias, not to mention those hideous earwigs!

It pays to buy daylilies from places that will send three and four fans each. We all learn the hard way with that one.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

Whats the story on your screen name? I keep picturing Ingo Radamacker from the soap opera General Hospital.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi, dwerland. My kitten's name is Jax. He was a bit of a "problem cat" at his cattery, so I got him for 1/2 price :-( The breeder is a huge fan of General Hospital, and named his litter after it's characters. I didn't change it b/c it suits him. He is 2 years old and a blue bi-color ragdoll. He is way too smart for his own good and is into everything, but I adore him. This is him after helping with some limbing I was doing... there is another portrait of him on my home page atop my p/u truck. He is really a puppy; he goes where I go (even into the shower) and fetches balls better than any dog I've known.

Thumbnail by Jax4ever
Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)


I bought 'Hannah Baker' this year. If the flower is 1/2 as good as that picture, I'll have gotten a bargain!

My orders will come in staggered from 1st week in April to 1st week in May. I have no idea, or maybe I forgot, how to plant them, or what to do with them when they get here. You plant them 6" deep and horizontally? I'll watch the threads....


Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Where did you buy HANNAH BAKER? As to planting help just go to for lots of help.

Bath, NY(Zone 5b)

Steve, they have it at Corralitos Gardens

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Yes, Kevin Larkin is a good friend of mine and several years ago I sent him some Hannah Baker to grow and sell. As you know Kevin only sells cuttings and is very careful to be sure his palnts are healthy and well rooted before he ships. I have listed him as one of the top growers in the country. Just follow his instructions when you receive his plants and you will be successful. Yes, Hannah is almost as beautiful as my granddaughter (and sometimes her hair looks just like the flower) for which I named this beauty.
I grow this one 6-7 laterals up and this will give you nice 6" flowers. Let me know as the season goes on if you have any problems


Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Steve, you are going to have to start a "duh" thread for me. What do you mean when you say you are growing 6-7 laterals up? I guess you are pinching it at a certain height, but (hammering away on the height issue again) how do you know which varieties to pinch at what height? Gaaahhh! I thought dahlias were simple!

I just spotted a must-have for me: Normandy Painted Pearl. I guess the minis need special pinching? Gaah again.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I think you first pinch at the third set of leaves but after that I'll bow to Steve and his experiences.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

I did place a big order with Corralitos, but the Hannah Baker came from Christie Park's dahlias. She had a large number of ones I especially wanted, so I placed an order with her. Corralitos had ONE I really, really wanted, so I added enough tubers to the order to justify the postage :))

Whether Hannah is going to a good home or not, welllll....

I'll look at the dahlia net site before I get too far into it. Last year I planted them all rather too deeply in an effort to be able to leave them down over winter.


West Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6b)

Hmm, I checked my list, and I got 6 from Corralitos:

Alfred C, Ayers White Night, Bert Pitt, Camano Titan, Cheerleader, Cyril Higgo

This message was edited Mar 7, 2007 8:07 PM

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

Back several dozen posts ago, you mentioned Babylon Red, and Babylon Purple I have never seen the purple. however, I have bronze and and it is incredible! I love it! You should give it a shot. I am going to have to search for babylon purple!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Dayna - I had several Babylon Purple, sort of like a red felt.
Lilac Time was closer to purple if that is the color you want.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Hey! Purple is Red? How does that work? What color is Babylon Red- yellow? Why do I think that hybridizer is colorblind?
Every dahlia I've seen I want. I'd love to try the bronze, but I am worried. The flower show here is coming on the 17th and the tuber/corm/bulb sellers come out in full force. I already ordered a million "must have" tubers, and I'll probably stagger out of the show, bags full, wallet empty, like a compulsive gambler. I vow NOT to buy any more tubers until I hit the show and see what's on sale. (Who here thinks I'll stick to that?) Babylon Bronze is on the list!!! It's a good thing the flower show doesn't have mortgage lenders on site, like casinos do!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You are funny, Jax. I do agree with you about colors and hybridizers or the people who write the descriptions.

Is the show in Boston?

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Babylon Bronze is a beauty.

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Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Jax and others,

The whole convept of topping or stopping has been made too complicated by dahlia exhibiton growers nuts like me! I always like to KISS when looking for garden beauty with dahlias. Lets for a moment understand what we are trying to do with stopping.
1. To encourage the dahlia to send out additional laterals(branches). If we don't top or stop (both mean the smae) we will have a wonderful terminal bud and flower but all the plants energy goes into this one flower. PS topping doesn't effect the height of the plant thats it genes.
2. Next key: Where a leaf is located on the stem I call the axil, this is where a stem will start to grow. This growing new stem is called a lateral. Each lateral will produce a flower.
3. Simple and easy way--- for large dinner plates let 4 set or pairs of leaves grow and the remove the center growth (topping/stopping) This will give you 8 laterals or in time 8 blooms. For smaller varieties go to 6 sets of leaves which will give 12 blooms.
4. Low growing dahlias only require 1 pinching and theywill fill out nicely.

I would strongly recommend the new booklet available from the American Dahlia Socitey " Raising Beautiful Dahlias the Easy Way" This and other subjects are covered in a easy to understand manner with lots of pictures.
Go to Bookworm for the details. Any questions contact me personally. This booklet can make like easy!

Picture: Stopping/Topping

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Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks, Steve! I will get that book.

pirl, yes, the show is in Boston. This is The Big One- The Massachusetts Horticultural Society Spring Flower Show at the Bayside Expo. Center. My personal Mecca. I don't know if it's the largest in the country, but it's the oldest. I can verify that; I've been going since the show was at Horticultural Hall back in the stone age. I only wish I could say I was making money by advertising the show, but I can't. It's just one of those traditions, and I am lucky I live so close and can visit more than once.

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