Fall Dividing:You Find the Eyes

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

These are mostly blurry and I apologize, because it's a time when you want to see exactly what you're doing with your dahlias! You will be able to see your tubers much better in person and hopefully learn to spot where those eyes are emerging. Those eyes will bring next year's plants and glorious flowers. Practice; practice, and learn. But ask questions from any one of the numerous wonderfolks here at DG, if in doubt.

The best thing to remember when looking for eyes is to think "PIMPLE ABOVE THE NECK" It's every teenager's nightmare. So look above the thinner neck of a tuber on the thickened collar just below the main stalk/s of your cut off dahlia plant. Once frozen or cut off, the plant will try to regenerate itself by sending out the eyes. Just a few millimeters and that's enough for us to spy it, sever its tuber and save it!

NOT ALL TUBERS HAVE EYES: Some tubers will have multiple eyes. Some eyes are obvious, some will be sly and hide until Spring. If in doubt, and you really want to grow your dahlia again: save the dubious ones and you may have a pleasant surprise in Spring. Generally, thin tubers store less well and are at risk of rotting faster when planted than a well-developed one, but they can and do survive.

You will get no plant from a blind, or eyeless tuber. Ever. So if you divide in Fall: eyes are your target and a going concern. If you have room to overwinter whole or partial clumps, then you have more flexibility to see where the eyes sprout in lighter warmer weather. Lucky dogs.

So, look at the following and see if you can find the Pimples Above the Neck. I will add (hopefully less blurry) photos as I go through clumps. Some clumps are really tightknit, so ask about how to handle those if encountered.

Starting with clump anatomy: the stalk, the collar, the neck, the tuber. Here is a pretty average clump with good tuber development and spectactualr eyes/shoots already starting.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Marked for you with common terms. Remember PIMPLE ABOVE THE NECK is the goal.

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Tulsa, OK(Zone 6b)

Question? Do you save the long fingers. I think they would store energy for the vew ones to grow bigger? This is uncharted area for me,
Thanks Dave

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Look above the necks and you find some eyes, even though it's hopelessly blurry LOL. They are swollen yellowish, maybe brownish on this clump. The next page will have my marked guesses as to eyes in this photo.

See that dark brown thready stuff upper left? Those are the few threads of completely rotted mother tuber from which this plant sprang forth. Just amazing how these plants hang on and prosper. ;)

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Tulsa, OK(Zone 6b)

Oh Ok. I think I have it. Just make sure each piece of the newer tuber has 2-3 eyes. Similar to canna's and ginger, close but not always the same. Thank you for the clarification. Looks like I am looking for tubers to start some that are nice looking for the new garden.
Dave

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Hi Dave,
Check out www.dahlias.net "care and culture" "Digging and dividing' or our very own dahlia info thread at the top of this forum and linked here. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=2858878
If you refer to long fingers as the tubers then YES you should generally save them. But they should have eyes which you can read about right here :) Ask more as you go and welcome.

Now, on to the marked version of that previous photo: Note that the eyes are all found on the collars, above the blue-line of the skinnier necks.

Thumbnail by Poochella
Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Another clump to check your eyeing eyes skills. Still blurry. Sorry!

Thumbnail by Poochella
Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Marked with my guesses as to eyes.

The one circled highest up by the stalk, doesn't have a tuber, poor thing. The ones circled in pink are smaller but were obviously swelling in person.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

One more

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

marked with eye possibilities. This was just one tuber, I think, and one cut-off skinny tuber area visible upper left.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Dahlia tubers are really gross looking. But here are eyes so obvious that Maybelline or Loreal could turn these gross tubers into supermodels!

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Here you go: that's it for the night. Hope it helps someone struggling to find those important little eyes. Please add your own photos if you get better ones!

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North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Thanks Pooch....another great thread for the new dahlia freaks on the block. Unfortunately it's a few days to late to stop my brutal massacre, but I will mark this thread for reference next year. You are so right about the eyes being more obvious on the last pictures. I think I should have waited awhile to let mine become more pronounced? From what I'm picking up I get the feeling that they develop more as time goes on.

Just one other question (for now at least, LOL) regarding the tuberless eye in post #5735865. Could one of the tubers below that eye be cut high enough to use it? Or is it totally useless?

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

P very good most of those eyes are story book. Linda and I have still never made it your way but she retires with me 12-1 and we have a new gs in snohomish so maybe this summer some time.

We now have Golden Retriever #4 his name is james and is 4 months old 43 pounds what a scream.

Lala I could answer you but wont unless she dosen't come back and answer you it is her thread.

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(bestest fairy)Tempe, MI(Zone 5b)

OK-so the eyes will not be on the tuber?? And the fact that they have roots doesn't matter?? I am doing this for the 1st time this year and am having a heack of a time with it...

Yonkers, NY(Zone 5b)

Great info!
My dahlias are still blooming right now. The temps teased at the frost line, but didn't quite get there.
I was never sure just what to do with the tubers. After I dug them up, I'd over-winter them in my Mom's basement.
Being clueless, I never cut them apart. They were stored as a clump & were replanted the following spring the same way.

I was given some tubers this year that produced some spectacular 8" flowers. I was thrilled but wondered what I really should do with them.
Now I know what to look for.
If I can't spot the eyes clearly, I may keep them in a clump for storage. Come spring, things my be clearer.

Thank you!!!!

Nancy

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Roots are very misleading. I have had many tubers put out roots in the spring when I wake them up but never sprout.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

OUTSTANDING thread Pooch. Thanks muchly.

Tulsa, OK(Zone 6b)

Yes great thread very informative. I always like a good thread that fits some pieces together that were shaky in the ole brain to begin with. Thats tough stuff. we are a lot further south than you gabagoo. Thats not fair we fit 22 this week :( LOL all part of the fun of oklahoma weather. "If you don't like it just wait a moment it will change" ("Will Roger").

Dave

(bestest fairy)Tempe, MI(Zone 5b)

Another ??-I have what look like eyes on the little tubers, not above the neck-what's that about??

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Great.. Great.. great. Thankyou so much. Now I cna see a bit better what I should be looking for. So glad you made this cuz I was looking for eyes on the hangy-down tuber part.

Looking at my little guy I don't thinkI really see any eyes, maybe it too little yet to make them? So I think I wil leave it in one piece for now. But now I can dump my dinner plate pots and knwo what to look for.

When ya cuttign the tops off the plants to get at the tubers, can they be rooted or do ya just have to trash them?

Forgot to say, I appreciate you takign th etime out to do this for us. : )



This message was edited Oct 31, 2008 12:24 PM

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

PUPPIES! That is a bevy of Golden Beauty, Ernie. 43 lbs at 4 months- maybe you should name him Goliath. Enjoy every furry frolic. They are waaaay cute! We adopted this monstrous 90 lb lanky nonstop Black Lab last Februrary. Thought he'd be a disaster in the dahlias, but never lost a one to his galloping through the gardens in search of a tennis ball. Makes our old Golden look like a real grandma nowdays. You and Linda come on down anytime, I'd recommend September for best bloom time. Congratulations on your pending retirement!

Lala, I'm sure your 'massacre' will yield some results next Spring.

Re your question: You wouldn't need to divide so that tuberless eye you refer to would be attached to a tuber below it. You could, but the tubers shown all have their own eyes. I think, and Ernie correct me if I'm wrong please, that if left on the stalk planted in the ground, that little eye would go on growing into a shoot and perhaps spring roots with eventual tubers the next year.

Sometimes a stalk will sprout such a thing and they are referred to as stem tubers. Don't know any more about them. I've seen them, harvested, stored, and replanted them, but I don't know why they show up. It's all magic.

Fairy, some of varieties of tubers have bumps all the way down the tuber making it maddening to try to label the poor things. But those aren't eyes. They are bumpy obnoxious tubers:) The eyes will be up on the collar, above the thinner part of the neck, closest to the stem. Never have seen one below, on the main body of the tuber or "hangy down tuber" as Starlight aptly called it!


Gabagoo, you have the smart plan: if in doubt, store the clump whole and you'll be able to see where the sprouts are forming next Spring.

Starlight, you too: on your little one, it may not have eyes at all or else they just haven't popped yet, OR they have come and recessed as the tuber dried which they will also do. There's always something new isn't there??? You could store it whole too and see what happens in spring.

Yes, I always toss old stalks, mother tubers, roots and rat tails. i do know of one woman who broke off her dahlia, plunked the stalk into the ground or pot maybe and it went on to grow AND bloom. But it had leaves etc, and I think you're referring to just the cut off stalk, right?

The rain has begun- the usual dahlia digging weather here, so I will suit up and prepare for muddy madness. If I find any worthwhile teaching clumps, I'll attempt to defy the odds and take a clear photo LOL.



Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Annie your right about the stem eye being able to form a tuber but unless you are really hard up for tubers whats the point. But then whats the point to jump from a plane with perfectly good wings some times I just have to do some things just for me lol.

Another neat way to get more tubers from a single tuber is wake it up early and take cuttings and grow them on they will flower in the summer and you get several cuttings from the one tuber and then even plant the tuber when the weather gets right.But thats a different lesson just wondered if you do that.Thats the way the Dutch GH operations grow many of the tubers they sell in those packages of small tubers in a clump.If your interested I found a great tutiorial on it by a guy who knows his do do lol I will look for it for you.
Yeah Sept could be a good month. With the right timing I could bring you some of these unless you grow your own then maybe corn lol.This is Maria from MA harvesting from my gh she loved it.

Good job on this thread it will help rookies like the infamous dhalinut the Yukon queen from land of ice and snow who needs help to grow and know LOL.

Off to do something even if it's wrong. Ernie

Thumbnail by eweed
Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Here's a link for articles on dahlia cuttings. http://dahlias.net/dahwebpg/Propagation/Propagation.htm

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Oh man, now I want a tomato and mayo sandwhich.

That link is very helpful. Answered my question and I also learned that ya can't just keep taking cuttings. My poor mess I was always cuttign them back, not realizing I was weakign the plant. Learned so many good lessons today. I feel happy. : )

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Ask and you shall have lol

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Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Oh.. Oh, that not fair to tease me so. LOL Can ya like send it on the express mail truck. ; ) I don't know what kinda ya grew, but sure woudl like to know. beautiful tomatoes ya have there.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I got started on my tubers. 8 done out of 42 varieties. Best so far was 2 plants of Ripple gave me 31 tubers.
I am storing them by dusting sulfur & wrapping in plastic wrap. I have controlled heat storage so it will be set at 40 to 45.
These are the ones from Pochella last spring.
Bernie

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Wow Bernie. That alot of tubers. What ya feeding them babies? Does the plastic wrap keep them from shrinking?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

A friend of mine, raises hundreds of Dahlias, told me about it. Also saw it on here someplace. Maybe the sticky thread. It's called the Mandela method after the people that perfected it.
For dusting with sulfur, just put some sulfur in a baggie with some dry shavings. Throw the tubers in & shake it a bit. They will be nicely covered. Count how many go in so you don't miss one!
My friend gave me this one.
Bernie

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Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Sorry, forgot to name it, it is Bristol Fleck.
Also gave me a tuber of Show N Tell.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Ernie, if you brought me tomatoes like those, I'd give you a car! I cannot grow tomatoes here: I've given up trying and I miss the fresh flavor so much. Corn: you can have the other car or any dahlias of your choice.

Bernie- Happy Belated Birthday! You've turned those tubers into huge families in your sandy loam! If storage goes reasonably well for you, I will have more good cutters for you if you send me just one Show and Tell or two ;) Was supposed to get that one from a swap out here, but it was mislabelled. Let me know if that's a possibility. Glad you got Ripples to bloom before Christmas. I've been looking at mine in bloom since about last week and that does me no good.

Lala, look what I dug up today: stem tubers. Perfect example except for the photo. All the tuber development and root action was well below these three 'strays' who popped out of eye tissue higher up on the stem. I did not save them, as they didn't have glaring eyes when I divided. But you can see the bulging eyes on one tuber in the main clump.

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Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Fairy, for you I also managed to dig up a fairly 'bumpy' tuber. I've seen a lot worse. I think 'American Dream' which I used to grow was a notably bumpy tuber. You didn't even have to label it: I knew by one glance what it was because of the many bumps.

The difference between bumps and eyes ABOVE THE NECK is subtle, but if you look for paler, swelling tissue around a bump ; that would be one hint that it's an eye. So the bumps below toward the roots of the blue line are just decoy bumps, above the blue line toward the collar are where the eyes may be.

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Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I thought I had a picture of Ripples, but I don't and there is none in Plant Files.
By the size of the clumps it must have bloomed. Like I said, year was terrible busy, so they kind of got lost in the shuffle. Seemed like all plants were blooming. They were where I could view them as I drove out of the yard. So looked at them many times a day, but not often up close. My son cut some to add to bouquets, but at our market they don't sell very good.
Thousands of customers on a Saturday morning & probably less than 150 bouquets get sold total. Our big day for Gladiolus was 100 bunches. We had 130 along that day.
Bernie

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Well those darn fool shoppers don't know what they're missing Bernie! No doubt food comes before flowers in this economy, so don't give up too early. You can expand your dahlias and grow them for marketing from fairly early to very late each season with your hoop house/green house capacity.

I know you've got an awful lot growing on your plate, but if you pay just a little attention to the dahlias each day, you will get great flowers off each plant. It becomes second nature while walking by. Selling the potted plants is another option for those not inclined to do the work themselves. Photos: take photos to show folks what they're in for. Who could resist?

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Potted plants are in our plans.
We will be using 4 greenhouses as high tunnels next year. Fuel is to high to raise bedding plants. I bet Dahlias planted inside would do wonders. We will be planting anything that don't need supplemental heat. Our last killing frost is usually April 15, so can probably get them going early.
I tried to find a thread on letting the tubers sprout in trays before you pot them up, but no luck. I did find one on doing cuttings.
Bernie

(bestest fairy)Tempe, MI(Zone 5b)

Would anyone mind if I took a pic of my tubers for a little help here-this is my first year doing this and really love the 4 I have and want to make sure I do this right-and can I use a scalpel thingy to cut with??

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Bernie... Don't know if this will help you or not. When Bronx and I were tryign to learn about cut flowers Grannymarsh has told us about this place and they show a pic of how they do the tubers, may give ya the idea of how too.

http://cgdahlias.com/cutting_photos.html

Try not to look at the pretty pictures. LOL I couldn't resist looking.

I know at one time there was somebody here that had posted a bunch of pics of pot production, but been so long since I seen it that I dont remember who it was or the name of the thread. I don't know if I cna find it again or not, but if i do will let ya know

Eagle, ID

What a great thread, exactly what I was looking for and needed. Now... after I cut the eyes out (that sounds gross) do I need to let the cut ends dry before storing?

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Thank you so much, Annie!

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