Should I have dug my tubers?

mchad21February 1, 2009

I'm in the SF bay area, we never get temps below freezing. Last year, I planted some very nice tubers that grew into lovely, large plants.

I did not dig, nor did I divide. Was this a mistake?

Thanks,

Matt

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homemommy

If your ground did not freeze, the tubers should be fine. The only acception I can think is if they just got too wet, then they may have rotted.

Do you have any foliage left? I am not sure if or when your spring starts, if it is at the coldest time right now, then perhaps you will want to throw some mulch over them for now to help give them some extra protection.

You may wish to dig them up now and see what is going on, I can't see any harm in that, but you may wish to keep them out until planting time, for you I would think only in a few more weeks. Clean them up and you could probably hold them over in your fridge... You probably could divide them now (if you choose to dig now) or in the spring too when they start to sprout...

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 9:51AM
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mchad21

Thanks. They are mulched over at the moment, and have been all winter. In the fall the stalks sort of dried out so I snipped them down a little bit. No foilage yet.

They are in a location that has excellent drainage, and we have not had a wet winter, so I think that should not be a problem.

I'll just leave them at this point and see what happens. Another question...will new shoots form from the main shoot that is sticking up (about 3 inches or so) from last year, or will it produce totally new shoots from the new/other tubers?

Thanks again,
Matt

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:21AM
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homemommy

It is very possible that the stalk may develop new shoots if you left it fairly long, the junctions where leaves once where (they look sort of like ridges) may have active growth nodes inside. I have a dahlia clump that amazingly survived severe neglect in the fall prior to my getting it. I have just planted it 3 weeks ago, and it has 4 buds. 2 are from the tubers themselves (well, actually just above at their necks where they join the stem) but 2 are actually on the old woody stem piece that was left. To my somewhat untrained eye, I thought the stem was dead! But obviously it isn't! lol.

I plan to take sprout cuttings in a few more weeks from these stem shoots, but, that is another conversation!

If you where to dig out the tuber, you would likely find lots of smaller tubers attached to the stem. Interestingly enough, you cannot just break off these tubers and expect them to turn into new plants. It is very near the base of the stem where the eyes, or new shoots develop. Each tuber, needs some stem that is producing at least one eye to develop into a plant! A root that is broken off without an eye, will put out roots, but no foliage!

However, I have a feeling you are talking about looking for growth on the stem further up, like where it had leaves last year. This is what I am saying, yes, you may get some new growth from the places where the leaves joined the stem.

But... in the spring I would carefully uproot it, and divide the clump, carefully making sure each tuber you take off, has a shoot or eye (growth node). Generally, the fewer tubers you have on the clump, the better the plant. If the plant has a huge clump, it sees its job as being done, and does not have much insentive to grow big and put out flowers.

If you don't do this, then at the very least, limit the number of shoots that you allow to continue to grow. don't allow all the tubers in the clump to send up or at least keep shoots up.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 1:08PM
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cotodahliagirl

I did not dig up my tubers last year and forgot to pinch back and had tall skinny plants, not attractive! I was told that if I keep doing this, not digging up-eventually they may not come back.
Does anyone know if it is too late for me to dig them up and divide them now?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 7:39PM
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plantlady2008

Dig them up & divide, spray the cut w/ Lysol, let it dry & then replant if it's warm enough to plant. If it's not warm enough then wait until it is to do all of this.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 8:48PM
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