Benching up tubers & pot roots

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

First to answer a couple of questions.
1. Any heat pad is fine. I would like to be able to control temp and time on.
2. MOTHER tuber is fine for cuttings but I have found it will rot once placed in the ground. I usually trash the mother unless I am short but always store all labled mothers alone. Rot spreads.
OK took 4 cuttings before supper and here are the pictures.
Picture: I use oais wedges. Space saver. I can get 65 cuttings into one tray. Once rooted I plant it all in a 6" pot.

Thumbnail by Steve_D
Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Her we see the cuttings just taken.

Thumbnail by Steve_D
Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

The cut was made close to the tuber about 1/8" from the tuber. I expect 2-3 more sprots from this cut area---Yes, it can get out of hand later.
This picture shows where I make the cut (just below the 2 leaves that I will remove. This is sort of an exploded view.

Thumbnail by Steve_D
Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Next I will stick the cuttings in the wedges that have been soaked. Give them a good spray, and put under lights. Bottom heat is not that important. Room temp of 60-65 fine. Most important keep moist. This time of the year about 2 weeks for good roots. I set lights for 14-16 hours of light. I do not use any rooting hormone. Tested both ways and found no difference. Make sure all cuttings are labeled. These lables don't go in the garden. Best in garden labels from Ferncliff Gardens. I have some that are 5 years old and still not faded.

Steve_D

Thumbnail by Steve_D
Aptos, CA

Steve,

Where does one obtain the Oasis wedges??

Thanks

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Most hort supply houses have them. See Kevin he has lots and can give you local supply.

Steve_D

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

Cowlitz Dahlias sells them; look under proagation and growing supples
http://dahlias4u.com/index2.html

Aptos, CA

Thanks Grannys and Steve...

I did get a tray from Kevin, I hate to bother him at this busy time...I don't want to be a pest hahahaha...Guess I am weird...heehee...

I am practicing this year with making cuttings...we'll see how it goes!!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Steve - I started a few honkin sweetpotubers that I'm going to take cuttings from. Now why did you say you don't put the top 2/3 in the potting mix?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I think he said he wanted to see the shoots emerge.

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

That is right. Just put the bottom 1/3 in soil and this lets you see the stems growing so you can cut them easily. If you plant 1/2 in--- not to worry---you just want to be sure you can see the eyes as they devolpe. Also when you make the cut you want to be sure you don't cut into the tuber. BE WARNED once you start making cuttings you will be swamped. The first cutting I made now have 3-4 new shoots coming up from wher I made the cut.
Steve_D

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Are you saying that the cells closest to the tuber root better then? I have taken cuttings above ground during the season and rooted those. Don't the tubers dry out being exposed like that?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

.....or does the air help the tuber heal, as with irises?

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I don't know. I have some real long thin ones that I would like to do ,but would hate for them to dry out.

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)


If we are talking about benched up tubers to take cuttings from---not to worry they will not dry out. We should be misting this tray daily. If you are talking about getting your tubers going before planting out then once the eyes start to grow get them into 8" pots till ready to plant out or if there is no chance of frost get them into the garden.
Yes, you can take cuttings above ground during the season but in that case I would be trying to get my plant down to one stem.
On the real thin ones plant under soil but keep the crown out and take your cuttings from there. I was refering to potb roots.
When I get home Tuesday I will take some pictures and this should cleqar it all up.
Steve_D

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Do you put a clear plastic dome over all? You don't say, but it seems like it would help a lot. Are the oasis kits the same as oasis I have around here for cut flowers? Can I take a brick and cut it in cubes or something?

I had something unusual happen yesterday -- Steve from Corralitos Gardens called to tell me they were shipping my rooted dahlia cuttings and asked if I had a way to grow them on until late April and stuff. Geez, I hope he doesn't call me in October to make sure I am digging & storing them properly. LOL! Just kidding, I thought the phone call was a nice personal touch.

Suzy

This message was edited Apr 1, 2007 11:24 PM

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I had domes over my 2 trays of benched tubers and I got those little gnats. I took the tops off, and mist daily. Now, the sprouts are looking brown on the leaf tips-- what is going on?! Should I just snip all the sprouts off?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Suzy - Steve C. has hired several of us to spy on your gardens and your methods!

Jax - I'll hope Steve N. answers your questions. How close are the lights to the sprouts?

Massapequa Park, NY(Zone 7a)

Suzy,

I believe it was Kevin who called you and this is the type of service he gives to customers. Yes, it's the same type of oasis. You can cut a brick into cubes and get the same results.
Jax I use a dome at times --early in the season. At this time with lots going on I don't ---I am at them every day. When I went to Boston for 4 days I put domes over all trays to conserve moisture. The critters are fungus gnats not to worry. The brown tips ---how low are your lights? Leave all alone and you should grow out of this. Had the same problem early and raised the lights all is well.
Jax, Saturday I called Jeff Lowenfels on his radio program in Alaska and we talked for about 15 minutes. There is great dahlia interest in Alaska according to Jeff. So now I have been heard from in the greater Anchorage area!

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi Steve!
You are about as coast-to-coast as you can get! Is Hawaii farther west than Alaska??? You better put a visit in there, just to be sure! At this time of year, I would like to be almost anywhere else but sitting in cold drizzle with all my plants aching to go out. April is indeed a cruel month.
I guess as long as my tubers are sprouting, they are alive. I've been taking cuttings, and they are doing fine! I heard about the oasis wedges; I'll need some for next year. Right now, I'm using the little dixie bathroom cups with fresh potting soil, and the whole thing in an open plastic bag under lights. I think the browning of the leaves was moisture on the foliage; it's cleared up since I lifted the dome and just mist daily. I have to get caught up on making tags...!
I've read that most of you use cut Venetian blinds for tags. I don't have any blinds (and goodness, I've been dumpster diving!) so I've been using the waterproof paper made for computer printers (Xerox makes it) with a #2 pencil. It is thin enough to punch a hole on for a wire, string or stake, and you can cut it to any size- very handy! Coffee stirrers make great tag holders for cuttings, too!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Jax - Hawaii is our most southern and our most western state, per Jeopardy. It's five hours southwest of California.

Buy metal over vinyl venetian blinds. Just get a discard from HD or any home center or buy the cheapest one they have. I bought one for $3.00. The squirrels do love to play with the tags so bury one with the tuber and keep one tagged to the plant. Paint Pens (from craft stores or paint stores) really hold up very well.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

pirl, I can imagine what the critters do with tags. I've always known what plant was where, and I just started marking my Hostas (thank you again!!!) b/c I am starting to forget who's where during dormant periods. Dahlias are the first big tagging challenge I've had. I've written the name on the tubers in Sharpie whenever possible. (AARRGGHH to the seller who wrote NUMBERS on the tubers instead of names! Talk about poor idea since the reference list will get lost or be incorrect!) Photos will be helpful during blooming periods.
I'm surprised crows don't take off with Venetian blind bits. I bet they steal those little aluminum tags that hang on stakes. They love novelty! SOO smart. Except they won't take you tags b/c they're scared of your dress!!! ;-) Do you have her up yet?

OH NO, SNOW tonight!!!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

The scarecrow doesn't get her new outfit until May though I should shop earlier "for better selection" and she requires long sleeves. She looks very wet and depressed today! We're due for snow Saturday and Sunday!

Every time you receive an order take a photo (not a photo copy, though that can be useful for other reasons - like marking where you planted them) and it will always be on your photo program.

The tubers, either with names or numbers, doesn't guarantee that those particular tubers will survive for the fall. That's where I went so wrong with the Swan Island's that are stamped - never even considering the fact that the stamped tuber might die to be replaced by new ones.

The crows even attack the compost now in the vegetable garden (I'm waiting for more good weather to use it). They love attacking the tomatoes, hence Jack is enclosing the entire side of the vegetable garden to keep them out.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Jax, many of the large growers use number stamps. It only takes a few minutes to go through the inventory of numbers on the packing list, and put the corresponding name, height, color, (whatever you want) on the tuber and label. It's a good way to make sure your order was filled correctly too.

I just got notice that three dahlia boxes are coming my way from one grower! It isn't that big of an order, so I'm wondering what in heck they're sending.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Jax, I use the number system myself. I don't like to write the whole name. It ruins the tuber, I think, and if the tuber shrinks, it is very hard to read the name.

I like numbers. I write the numbers on the tubers several times.
I do have a master list to go by. So far, haven't ever lost it. I do have several copies along with being on my computer.
But everyone does things differently.

Annie, how exciting on getting 3 boxes of dahlias, YEAH
Now you have to wait patiently as this weekend is to be up to the 70's here, LOL
Carol

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Oh, if I used numbers, I'd be lost. Numbers just don't like me. I can see if you had a rubber stamp, it would make things go quickly if you're a big grower and dealing with people who speak different languages. "57" is 57 in any language. The dahlias I bought weren't stamped, a guy just wrote on them.

I got my Van Bourgondien order!!! All my Karmas! Happy Dance!! For clumps, they are the best I've seen; I can divide each to get 3 plants at least. Almost no broken necks!

I learned the hard way that Van Bourgondien takes your money on the day they ship out. I went to check my checking account balance and several small amounts were missing- I discovered that they were filling the order piecemeal, and charging my account as they filled it! Weird!! I called cust. service there to figure it out. She was a very wonderful lady and agreed that they should just charge the account at the time of order b/c she'd recieved similar calls.

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Billing you as they add each tuber! That is funny.

I've got a couple boxes in now. Had to put the heater out on the porch with all the babies here now....cold&windy.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

It's heavy wet snow here. April in NE. Yay. WHY do people like spring??? My poor bulbs; I just lifted the pine boughs I use for protection. They are poking through and trying to grow.

Yep, Van B. charged me for the Karmas; then they charged me for non-Karmas, and they have yet to charge me for 3 begonia bulbs, and a hosta. SO I have two more charges to go. Doesn't this cost them money in shipping??? Unless Van B. is like Amazon in that they drop ship from many different locations.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

Jax,
I got some great clumps from Brecks, I hadn't thought about dividing them. Would I just cut the clumps?

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I'm cutting off the obvious excess (broken tubers and old roots-see Steve's thread) and putting them in the light (artificial basement light) and waiting for them to eye up. Once the eyes are visible (to me, anyway), I'll make the decision how (or if) I can divide the tuber before planting it out. Pooch has a great thread about how to make your cuts. The clumps with the big stems (crown) look like the best candidates. The Van B. all have well-developed crowns.

I don't see why I can't divide before planting; I assume I can with no problem. Heck, Steve hacks off 3/4 off each of the tubers! (Doesn't that make the entire clump vulnerable to attack by critters who may like freshly cut dahlia?) I don't have the guts for that.

I am embroiled with an ebay seller right now about what constitutes a "viable eye" right now. I spent $13 on 3 tubers that were dry and shriveled. I gave them a squirt of water and sent them back and asked for a refund. He waited 3 weeks, then sent them back, saying they were "obviously sprouting!" Um, they're still as dead as the day they arrived. Maybe deader. He had the nerve to question my experience. You don't need experience to know a dead tuber! I hate to make a big deal about it, I just put them under lights and I'll wait 3 weeks and send him pics of dead tubers.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

After seeing how brave Steve is I got out my scissors and cut off big portions of tubers (for the trash), dipped the plant in a bleach mix and now have them benched up, under lights and on a heating mat. I tried a few methods last fall and the ones with lots of soil attached did best. Those I received from a sweet DG person, all wrapped, are in excellent shape - better than mine. I still can't find the one I loved best, American Dream.

Stick to your guns, Jax, and send them back again if nothing happens in three weeks.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

Negative Feedback, saying what you have said to us, should prompt better business conduct. Negative Feedback goes far!

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Pirl, you're going to laugh, but I think I have an American Dream. I'm really embarassed about how much grocery money I've spent on dahlias, and how many tubers I have now. Well, better tubers that grow in the ground rather than fat that grows on my hips!

I'll check my stash and get back to you. It should only take me about 5 hours ;-)

dwerland, I hate the bad vibes that go along with a bad transaction. I don't want bad feedback, and I've actually bought nice tubers from him before. I wish I could turn the situation into a positive so I can buy from him again! In the vast scheme of things, it really isn't a big deal. I'm trying to reduce stress by "picking my battles". I WILL send him a photo, though. Sometimes I say critical things about an ebayer but leave it as a positive! Wow, do they get confused then!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

It seems to be a yearly occurence with someone getting burned on Ebay tubers - I wouldn't buy any I know.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Yah on the Ebay debacle. Those can get rough when there's a questionable outcome. Jax, take and keep photos to back up your story, a datestamp on the photos would be good too so the seller can't come back and proclaim that YOU let the tubers dry out or die into little mummified compost candidates. Post them here or in you DG journal etc so a date is documented elsewhere other than your personal photo storage file ( dates can be altered, I hear.) There's always someone at Ebay willing to take your $ and not all are willing to assume any blame for a bad product being delivered. You shouldn't be to blame at all if you got bad stock and I would be honest in your feedback or you'll just let them get away with more bad sales.

Pirl et al, I have read that bleaching the sprouting eyes is not such a good thing, so I hope they weren't showing yet. That's just something I read- like 90% of the other 'knowledge' out there- some of it just perpetuates not based on any scientific study, it just IS, by gum, because people have said it IS for years. If you're dividing in Spring, just let the cut areas/raw cuts dry to touch, dust with antifungal and plant as usual. The 10% bleach is done in Fall dividing and even then, not all do it.

American Dream was about the 5th variety of Dahlia I ever grew. I remember it fondly.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Since I didn't know we shouldn't bleach and the parts I had to cut off were really bad I just treated them as I do irises. At least I've got a test case going, not that I wanted any testing - just growing! I'll report back as they progress.

Thanks for the advice. I won't forget it for next year.

American Dream was so beautiful. I can't imagine where I put them! Maddening.

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

You'll probably find them in the last place you look ;) I love that line.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Egads! Thoughts of my father-in-law who didn't say it in jest! He was 100% Irish but swore it was an old Polish proverb. Drove me up the wall!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I was trying to drive you through a wall. No Polish in me - some Irish.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

I just planted 20 dahlia tubers. I have named all of them, waiting on my labels from a co-op so sharpie on a popcicle stick will have to do for now.
I have six darling mickie mouse plant identifiers stakes. I need to go on eBay or disney outlet and get more. I did notice that some of the disney statuary is on sale. I wonder if I will have any room for them after I get all these dahlias planted. Not to mention all the bulbs I am expecting from co ops!
Dayna

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