Photos of Tubers...need advice. :c(

eigdeh(z6 NJ)April 19, 2010


New to DahliaÂs, not new to gardening.

I bought a box of two DahliaÂs from the "Netherland Bulb Company" at my local nursery today. I read the box and it stated to plant the "root" so that the top is 1 inch below soil. When I opened the box I was surprised to see tubers! Not the first time boxes were wrong! Oh well box might also be wrong about depth to plant them, more below.

I got excited when I looked in the box and saw 11 tubers instead of the 2 promised, but when I researched on the web to find out if I should have gotten the roots as stated on the box I watched a YouTube video from "Lance the Dahlia Guy" that stated tubers growing from tubers were not going to produce plants. Oh well, I "think" 9 of the tubers fit this category. :c( Learn something new everyday.

Two areas I am confused about:

Lance the Dahlia GuyÂs YouTube video stated that most places recommend to plant the tubers between 4 and 6 inches deep, but he plants them between 2 and 4 due to the fact that it takes the ground a long time to warm up in NW Washington. So why does my box state to plant them 1 inch deep? How deep should I plant the tuber here in NJ keeping in mind I will plant them in pots till mid May?

See photos below for other questions:

Below is a photo of all the tubers I got in the box. Are all the loose tubers on the plate the kind that broke off other tubers and will never produce plants?

Below are the two clusters. I can take closer shots if necessary:

Should I divide these for better yield? Are there any eyes that you guys with experience can see? To me these are not as obvious as the ones I saw on YouTube, but I am new to this. I am assuming that the two stems that are about 2 inches long will grow fine when planted?

Are the mother tubers on these clusters?

And how deep should I plant these?

If these are divideable I would love to try it.



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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Those Âstems are the eyes.

Each tuber needs an eye in order to flower.

If you can not find more eyes you can lay those tubers on top of a moist posting soil under some lights and they will start sending out eyes. You can then divided them (one+ eye per tuber) or plant the whole clump in the ground. I do not think most of your single tubers will have/get eyes but you can always try.

As far as depth, you will get many opinions.

I plant mine 2-6" below the soil line depending on size, type, how larger the tubers are and soil temp.

I do not see a big difference at 2 or 6 inches so whatever your feel most comfortable doing. The less deep you go the warmer the tuber will be and the early it will flower is some peopleÂs understanding of it.

And yes, you just bury those 'stems'.. I would get them in a pot or lay them in a tray soon (inside), becuase they are antsy to start growing.

Search this forum for 'dividing' and 'starting indoors' and lots of threads should pop up if you need guidance.

Congrats on your new Dahlias!


    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Hi Ken,
When I get tubers looking like these I trim off all the extraneous crud: broken tuber ends, old dried rootlets and plant the remaining dahlia tuber clump that will indeed go on to grow if it has an eye or shoot.

Don't worry about a mother tuber on these type of tubers. Those loose tubers are likely broken off below the neck and will not have eyes; I'd set them aside for a last chance and toss them if no growth shows up in a couple weeks of bright light. Remember new roots can form on eyeless tubers, so don't let that fool you. My experience is over half of what arrives with those sort of clumps is waste, can be cut off and disposed of, but what remains can grow and can grow well.

Eyes/shoots may also emerge from the bottom of the clumplet so if you get it in some barely damp soil and light as Keriann said, you'll soon find out if the clumplets are viable or not. Number 3 is a definite go, number 2 photo has no obvious eye to me, but looks good otherwise. Number one shows a typical mess bought from a big box store and deserve a good haircut and a chance to prove themselves.

Good luck with your new dahlias! I try to plant my tubers where the shoot emerges from the tuber at least 4" below the soil line just for extra support. You can always get the hole ready, plant the tuber and cover with only an inch of soil at a time as the shoot emerges til it's up to ground level.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 12:08AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Thanks Keriann and Poochella, your help is greatly appreciated!

I cut off the scruff and dropped them on top of some soil:

These sure don't look as nice as the tubers I see on all the web sites. Are they inferior or is the stubby rough shape due to the variety? Should I chuck them and order quality tubers online?

Is this what you had in mind keriann? Do they need to be under lights or is in front of a window enough? How long should it take before eyes appear?

After I see eyes and cut them up I am thinking of starting them inside in pots. Would it be best to plant the tuber with growth right now? If so should I cut the tubers into two or three pieces?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 12:54AM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Nice job trimming the scruff! You've got the obvious good one on the left with shoots, a possible good one dead center on the right, and the rest look broken off below the neck, but sometimes you'll get lucky and there will be enough collar tissue with an eye below the break.

I wouldn't mess with any further cutting of tubers until you get a bit more familiar with things. The one with two shoots might be divisible, but I'd pot it or plant it as is so it can get busy rooting and growing. If you absolutely want to divide it, look to go dead center down the old stem leaving each of the tubers attached to the two shoots intact. You could trim off the remnants of the little center tuber then, no need for it. Hard to say what's best from a 2D photo though.

Timing of eyes to show up varies. If I don't see any in 3-8 weeks they get tossed. If you have tubers of the same variety, they usually show up within the same time frame, some a bit faster/slower but not by much.

These are mass produced pot roots sent down conveyor belts and beaten to smithereens during processing. Much harder to get a nice solitary tuber or two on that large scale, but they still grow.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 12:16PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Thanks again Poochella!

I got brave after reading your lastest post and decided, after watching a few YouTube videos on dividing Dahlia tubers, that I was capable to at least get the two growths divided. I got the two apart just fine and ended up leaving a small amount of neck left on both sides of the third. I am hoping that there is an eye there ready to pop, if not no big deal. I think I did a decent job. :c)

It sure smelled like potatoes!

I am going to plant the two later in a pot. Should I just plant them as is or do I need to treat the fresh cut ends with anything?

I am going to put the third back on top of the soil.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Perfect tuber surgery! You could leave the cut ends to dry to touch, and/or dunk the cut in sulphur or plant as is. In a pot I don't think it matters so much. Well done!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 2:15PM
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I have jusst looked at one of my tuber clumps that have 2 eyes. Does it have to have a piece of stem? I would have to but through a tuber just to get a stem piece. The stem is at the top and the eyes are at the bottom of the clump?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 2:44PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

No stem needed, just get the eye and the tuber it's connected to.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 3:22PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Looks great as poochella said.

Nice job :)

Size and shape depend on variety.

You should get at least two beautiful dahlia plants this year and many more for next year.

I would put the 'pots' of tubers under shop lights or indirect sunlight. It will prompt the eyes faster. The soil looks quite wet, I would make sure it is rung out well otherwise the tubers will rot.

You are well on your way to becoming a dahlia pro :)

Becareful, you might get bit by the dahlia bug. :)

After I got my tubers into soil it only took 4-10 days to see more eyes and then I divided them again. Many people dry the 'cuts' but I always just plant them and have great results.

When the tubers with eyes start growing roots I would get it in a pot to cover the tuber until it is ready to be planted outside.

Conrgats again.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 5:59PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Thanks Keriann!

I should wait till roots start growing before putting the two I have with good growth into a pot?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 8:47PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

You can pot them up now if you like.. doesn't really matter.

I would add soil up about half their 'growth', so half is sticking out. If you want to plant them deeper, I would add more soil when they are 12" or so. Nip off their leaves before you bury any leaves under more soil otherwise the leaves may rot. And remember to water sparingly, these are tiny plants with few to no feeder roots yet... oh and plant the tuber on its side like you have them in the photo.

Now that I look at the picture again. You may want to wait to add soil because the 'growth' will probably move/bend to catch the light and it is important that you plant the growth 'up'. It may straighten out for you in the next few days making planting easier.... just a thought.


And you are welcome :)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 10:00PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)


A 9 day update. The tubers I layed on the soil and put by a window, did not have any lights to use, look exactly the same as they did a week ago. I put the two with stems in two pots of soil with the end of the stems just a bit under the soil. One is peeking it's head out of the soil. I put it in full sun for the day and bring it in the garage at night.

The soil is very dry, so much so that I can stir the soil with my finger tip and if I tip the pot it will spill out. Should I at least moisten it up a little? I read that one should not water them till they are about a foot high, but I wonder if it is way too dry?



    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:09AM
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Poochella(7 WA)

You aren't going to hurt a thing by giving them a little drink of water. I just watered some thirsty looking soil with rooting/growing dahlias today.

I wonder if the ones on soil in your window are the ones we thought were broken below the neck? It doesn't sound too promising for eyes if there's nothing green, pink or purple budding out. Wait and see though, before you give up on them.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:19AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Thanks poochella,

I don't have any hopes for those tubers that were not attached to a neck, but there is one tuber that I have hopes for. It is the one with the neck that had no eyes yet, the one that I did not divide.

I'll definately give it more time. :c(

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:41AM
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