BB Blooms (4"-6")
Red with slight yellow tips
BB Blooms (4"-6")
Not sure but my Firebird dahlia does not look quite like it is suppose to, I believe it is not actually Firebird, but it is pretty though, and since I do not actually know what it is I will just call it Firebird for now.
M (Miniature up to 4")
Unknown variety that I got from a trade
Beautiful white and lavender dahlia
Blooms seem to be BB (4"-6" Blooms)
Caring for Dahlia Tubers
If you are planting out dahlia tubers, I would suggest to start them first in a pot, instead of just planting directly into the ground. If you have an area with well-drained loose soil, you should be ok to plant in the ground. I personally prefer to plant in a pot first because, one you can get a nice early start, by starting them indoors, when there is still danger of a frost, and the plants will be safe. I usually start potting up my dahlias sometime in April (usually toward the end of the month). Just make sure if you start them really early you can provide them with enough sun indoors and you do not leave them outside for a frost or freeze. Another advantage to starting them in a pot is you can control the environment better than in the ground. A lot of the time our springs can be cold and wet. This is a bad environment for just sprouting dahlia tubers, which can easily rot if they remain too wet and cold. So when you plant your dahlia tubers be careful not to over water, do not allow to completely dry out but keep just wet enough to moisten the soil.
Before planting or transplanting outside be sure any danger of frost is past and the ground temperature is at least 60 degrees or warmer.
When I plant I always like to add some low nitrogen pelleted organic fertilizer in the hole that I am going to plant in, just to give the plant a nice start. (See “Fertilizing”)
When planting you can lay the tuber on its side in the hole with the eye facing up. If you are planting in a pot you may have to stand the tuber straight up in order to fit in the pot. I have done this may times and it works fine, but most people recommend to lay on its side. Plant 4” – 6” deep. If starting in a pot you do not have to plant as deep right away just be sure to cover the entire tuber with soil.
Location: Full sun is best, but can be planted in part sun. Dahlias do best if they receive at least 6- 8 hours of sunlight per day. Try not to plant in locations with heavy soil, or soil that does not drain well.
Plant 12” – 24” apart.
Dahlias need to produce strong tubers in order to have strong plants and flowers. So when you fertilize you should use a lower nitrogen, higher phosphorous and potassium fertilizer.
I have had good luck with:
Fox Farm Natural & Organic Liquid Plant Food Big Bloom
0.01 – 0.3 – 0.7
Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium
In the fall about a month before the first frost (when you will be digging your dahlia tubers) stop fertilizing the plants, this will help the tubers store better during the winter.
Dahlias are fairly easy to care for once in the ground. Just be sure to cut the flowers because it will produce a lot more flowers if you cut them. So get your vases ready.
Pinching: Plants can be pinched to promote the plants to branch out instead of just growing straight up. You can really pinch off the top of the main stem at any time, but most recommend pinching off the center after about the 3rd to 5th set of leaves. You only have to do this one time.
Staking: Many of the larger varieties of dahlias may need to be staked, because they can get rather tall.
Digging Tubers in the Fall
It is best to wait till after a frost to dig out your dahlias, just be sure that you get them out of the ground before a freeze or your dahlias will rot in the ground.
After a frost the foliage on your plants will die back and turn black, when this happens you can cut the stems back at the ground. I then leave the tubers in the ground for about 3 to 4 days, this helps the tubers go dormant for winter storage. Once you dig out your tubers you want to remove any excess soil that you can from the tubers, then you can lay them out in a dark dry place to dry for storage. When you do this you do not want to dry them too long to which you see them starting to shrivel up, but you do not want to store them wet either. How long to dry them is going to depend on how wet the ground was when you dug them out and the location you are drying them in. When dry remove any excess soil from the tuber. Then you are ready to store you tubers for the winter. See below “Storing for the Winter”.
*Once again just make sure you get the dahlias out of the ground before a freeze, this is the most important thing. Since you never know what the weather is going to do if you must you can pull them out before a frost hits them if there is going to be a freeze. But generally we do get a frost before a freeze.
Storing for the Winter
There are many different ways that tubers can be stored for the winter, a lot depends on the environment of where you are able to store the tubers.
Ideal conditions for storing tubers:
Temperature – between 40 and 50 degrees is ideal
Humidity – should be about 90%
You can use any of the following for storing medium: peat moss, cedar, pine, newspaper, sand, sawdust, and vermiculite.
I believe that the newspaper, pine, and cedar methods work better if they are being stored in an area with higher humidity. The peat moss and sawdust work better for drier conditions.
Here are some of the methods you can use for storing dahlia tubers:
1. If you have the ideal conditions for storing tubers the best way to store them would be to wrap in newspaper, or store in peat moss, cedar, or pine. You can keep them either in a box or paper bag.
2. Many people say not to store your tubers in sealed plastic bags, but this is the best way I am able to store them in my basement. My basement stays warmer during the winter, too warm for the tubers. So I make sure they are dry enough then I stick them in a bag and cover with peat moss and store away in a box.
3. You can also store your tubers in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. I have never tried this method but I have heard of others having good luck storing tubers this way. I just worry about them getting to damp, which would probably be a good idea to be on the look out for. Place the tuber in a zip lock bag with a small amount of peat moss. Make sure to get all the air out of the bag and then seal. Fold over the top of the bag (the condensation should collect in the folded top of the bag. Then store in your crisper drawer.
4. I have also read about wrapping the dahlia tubers in cling wrap and storing between 40 and 50 degrees.
Check your tubers about once a month while they are in storage. If they seem to be drying or shriveling, you can spray them with some water. If you notice some that are beginning to rot remove the rotted tubers and let them air out to dry some more.
I find it best to divide the dahlia tubers in the spring just before planting, at this time the eyes will be more visible than in the fall, making it much easier to divide, especially if you are a beginner.
Dividing the tubers is important if you keep planting the tubers outside every year without dividing it will become a “root bound” mess. Just picture trying to grow a large plant in a little pot, when you remove it from the pot and look at the roots it becomes way to overcrowded and root bound. Dahlia tubers can do the same kind of thing. If you do not every divide them the tubers can become very congested, and run out of room to grow.
When dividing the tubers you have to make sure that for every root you have an eye, if you just cut off the root it will not grow. For beginners it may be easier to just cut the clump in half or three pieces, until it becomes easier to tell where the eyes are and what they look like. Just be sure that every clump has at least one eye. This is what I did when I first started saving dahlia tubers, and slowly every year I was able to cut them up better and better, till finally I could divide the tubers up so almost every root has an eye.
Below: The first photo shows the some visible and still dormant eyes the second photo shows where you could cut in order to have an eye at least one eye for each tuber. The cuts from this photo would give you 4 separate tubers to plant.
~ All Dahlias, even ones grown from seed, will produce tubers, most people who buy the small dahlia plants do not realize that you can save the tubers.
~ You can save seeds from dahlias but you most likely will not get the same color as the plant you saved the seed from. Which is why you cannot buy named dahlias from seed, only tubers. In order to maintain the variety you have to either save tubers or take cuttings of the plant.
~ All dahlias produce different size tubers, some varieties that have the largest flowers produce small tubers, other varieties have very large long tubers. Dahlia tubers can be just as unique as people are.