How do I separate my dahlia tubers?

kevinbumper(5 WI)January 11, 2005

I have growing my dahlias for about 4 years now and never separated the tubers before other than the ones that fell off on their own. This year I want to divide them. I have placed them in dirt and waiting for the eyes to appear. Once they appear how to I divide them? What tool is good to do this?

Also, after dividing them, should I treat the cuts with something like sulfur? Next, after dividing them, is it safe to put them back into the ground with their new cuts exposed to the soil. Or should I wait until they scab over?

Let me know ASAP



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kevinbumper(5 WI)

After separating them due I need to put some kind of chemical on the cuts to protect them before I plant them into the ground?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 7:34AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

If you are in zone 5, I think you are a WAY ahead of yourself. I usually start separating in mid-late February. Yes, I dust the fresh cut with dusting powder. I also sterilize my knive prior to cutting, and in fact dip it in sterilizing solution before going to a new tuber.

In mid Feb the tubers are brought out from the dark and cold storage. These are then laid on top of potting soil, and when I see the shoots coming up, then I do the dividing, dusting, and planting into separate pots.

I still don't understand why you start now, unless they are already sprouting. Otherwise, the plants will be too lean and the stems would be too weak to stand any outdoor wind. I don't know, maybe I am missing something.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 3:23PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Wow, you guys are early birds- even talking about dividing in February. When storing whole clumps I never used to do anything until April and I'm in zone 7.

Even if they are sprouting now, you can break those off sprouts and new growth will form from the eyes. Though I did read an intriguing post about planting those long straggly sprouts horizontally and having tubers form at the leaf joints.

I think as JRoot said, use a fungicide (sulphur) and I would let the cuts callous over as well before planting.
Good luck

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 3:51PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I don't think we are too far ahead of ourselves by contemplating February. A published expert says:

"I bring them out of storage at the end of January or beginning of February"...Calvin Cook

See the article below

Here is a link that might be useful: propagating cuttings

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 7:42PM
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bernie__pa(z6 Pa.)

Hi Jroot, I believe if you read the entire article, published by the Colorado Dahlia Society, you will find that the tuber clumps were dug and divided in the fall and stored as individual tubers over the winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Digging, Dividing and Storing Tubers

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 8:57PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

ah cuttings.... that is somewhere I dare not venture. I tried with some half-rotten tubers and their sprouts early last summer and had 100% failure rate despite following the directions on the link above fairly closely. But for those of you who can achieve success- great!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 9:37PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I had good success using cuttings from the tubers, but once again, I did not do it until later in the spring than now. All of my cuttings took. I even took stem cuttings and had success, but later.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 6:00PM
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cats39(z5 Upstate NY)

Hi Poochella and All!

I hate to continually say I'm a real novice at Dahlias as most of you know they are a lot easier to plant and propagate.

I've been planting and storing dahlias for 3 years and last year was the first year that I took cuttings. I placed them in plastic soda and water bottles, using snow melt water for the ones indoors and then rain water for the ones out of doors as the weather warmed.

All and all I had an 80 to 90% success rate. All I had to do was water as needed.

How else do others propagate cuttings?


    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 7:39PM
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For some interesting comments and great pictures on both subjects---cuttings and dividing clumps go to our web site get back to me on any further questions.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 8:28PM
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kevinbumper(5 WI)

Thanks for all of your help. I finally figured it out.
So far I'm having a pretty good sucess rate.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 6:12PM
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I'm interested in knowing why you all start cuttings, when you can just start the tubers?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 1:46PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Hi flowergirl70ks,

You wanted to know why I start my dahlias so soon. Well, I suppose it is because of the Scot in my, or as my wife says, the Scotch LOL. I want to make cuttings so that I can end up with more plants. That way, I can give some to my friends. They are happy because they got something for nothing, except a smile. I am happy because I could give them something, and it cost me nothing, except a bit of time, which is something I have now that I am semi-retired.

I am also always trying to figure out how to get around the obstacles that Mother Nature throws at us. I think making cuttings is fun,- if one has the space, and the time.

Thats all.....just for the fun of it.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 4:38PM
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lesleynd(z3/4 ND)

yes, Jroot. we are a thrifty (miserly) breed aren't we? :-))

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 9:52AM
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hi all; nice thread and i hope it is ok to post here. i have read that making dahlia cuttings is a good way to keep the dahlia strain you're growing stronger and more disease resistant. i can't remember where i read that, but it may have been the colorado dahlia website. i've grown dahlias on and off for 20 years, and sometimes a particular cultivar just "dies out" for me and for the people i've given it to, so i am interested in making cuttings if it really does keep the genetic strain stronger and healthier, and if it keeps kinds i like from dying out. you have all inspired me to try cuttings! i have a question for CATS39: are you saying that you took cuttings from tubers (sprouts?) or stem cuttings later on when the dahlia plants were bigger, and did you really root them in water with high success rating? i'm interested to know more. thanks.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:33PM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)


I can't speak to whether cuttings will keep a variety from dieing out, a cutting is a clone of the original plant, but if its taken from a new tuber each year (which they typically are) then each year the variety has the possibility of changing. Of course you stand a better chance if you take a cutting from a tuber that produced particularly well.

This year all of my Dahlias were grown from cuttings. I took >400 cuttings and grew >150 here in my gardens. I rooted my cuttings most successfully in 4" pots of Miracle Grow Seed Start with "Rootz" hormone. The cuttings were taken from tuber sprouts, when the sprout got 3 sets of leaves or more, or was >4" tall. That meant I was taking cuttings on average 42 days after I took the tuber out of storage.

I kept my pots in trays under lights with ~1" of water. While I had some losses, I got more cuttings than I needed.

Good luck!


Here is a link that might be useful: My Dahlia garden pictures

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 1:39PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

yes, Jroot. we are a thrifty (miserly) breed aren't we? :-))
* * *

I prefer to call it FRUGAL: (from someone with a very Scottish maiden name)

Whereas my husband is so wasteful it makes my blood boil sometimes. NOT frugal.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:41PM
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