starting indoors without pots? How?

linnea56(z5 IL)April 13, 2007

I have already used up both my pots and my window space in the sun for the 40+ dahlias I am starting. I went out yesterday for some dirt and of course, came home with about 23 more. Arghh! I do need to start them inside or they will take too long to bloom. They probably will have about 5-6 weeks of indoor time, including trips to the yard for hardening off.

How else can I start these to save space? Should I set them all in a tray with dirt, or make newspaper pots and stuff them together in a tray to hold each other up?

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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Lay them on their sides in a flat of potting soil. Cover the tubers w/ soil leaving the necks out. You can put them pretty close together & they won't mind & you can get LOTS of them in one flat.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 1:20AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks! That sounds especially good for the bags of mixed colors: no need to keep those separate anyway. When I go to plant them, do I just try to scoop up a ball of dirt with them? Before this, all my others have been in paper pots set inside plastic: so I just pulled up and planted out the whole paper pot. So I don't know what kind of roots they are going to make (apart from the cluster of tubers).

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 3:38PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Plantlady2 - doesn't that method cause a lot of roots being tangled up? Does it matter?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 9:35AM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Doesn't seem to matter- just separate them carefully- they're growing from the tuber & you're not going to kill them if you break a few feeder roots. They won't be in the flat long enough to get really tangled up anyway as it's getting REALLY close to planting out time--YEAH!!!
They don't start getting serious about growing new tubers until into the summer so you won't have a tangle of tubers with just a few weeks growing time. Soak them well before separating so they come apart easily and water with a Vit. B1 Plant Starter mixture when you transplant- it's wonderful- I use it on all the annual pots I do for customers at my flower shop & they don't wilt down at all- (the annuals- not the customers!!) I also use it when transplanting all our dahlia Seedling Babies & they love it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:16PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks! Tell me about that Vit. B1 Plant Starter mixture : I have not heard of that before.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 9:18PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Vitamin B1 Plant Starter is an anti-shock stuff. You mix a couple of TBSP with a gallon of water & then use it to water plants after you've transplanted them. I get it at Home Depot or any other garden place. It's inexpensive, too- just around $5-6.00 a gallon & it makes LOTS of gallons at just 2 TBSP per gallon of water.
It works great on pretty much anything you're transplanting.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 2:00AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks! Sounds like a great idea. I'll get some.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 9:04AM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Thanks plantlady2! Starting them in individual pots is not an efficient use of my very limited space - so I really appreciate hearing your suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 9:37AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I just got home from France and saw the gardeners at Givinchy planting dahlias. They are experiencing a much earlier spring than normal.

Personally, I don't use the paper lines pots until they have developed good shoots. Then I pot them in the pots, keeping the pots in trays for easy transport in and out of the garage.

Just now I am about to check the cold cellar to see how the tubers fared over the past few weeks while I have been gone.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 8:09PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Jroot- some of those dahlias are our introductions! The gardens have gotten our new introductions for a few years now- hope some day to be able to go & see them-- even if I don't get to see France our babies have!!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:41PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

I'm impressed! I can just imagine what it will be like when your babies are out in full show strutting their stuff. You really must make the trip some day. If they are originally from you, the entire trip would be a tax write-off, as you are doing research to determine how your product is faring in a foreign, potentially large market. Go for it.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:38PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Never thought of the tax write-off angle- wonderful idea!!! Do you suppose if I write-off trips to all of the countries that we have dahlia babies in the tax man will wise up & put a stop to it- there's about 23 countries as of this year - all the way from N. America to S. Africa, S. America & Europe! I'll have to do an old fashioned "Grand Tour"!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 2:26AM
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Hi all--

Last fall was the first time I ventured a try at dividing some of my clumps. What I've noticed is that the divided tubers (which are sitting in a flat on my kitchen counter) are just getting dark pink obvious eyes, while the two clumps I didn't bother to divide are now in large pots and happily throwing up tall stems

Can someone explain this to me. think the slow growers are tom edisons....


    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 11:48AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Plantlady, All the tax man can say is "NO". If you were taking a trip anyway, then it is something to consider. I wouldn't recommend it though as a "carte blanche" to go travel the world. One always has to pay for trips, but if the tax laws for your country allow for deductions that fall into the cost of operating your company or educating yourself so that you can potentially make more $$$ ( and thus the tax man does too), then it is a worthy consideration. I know that when my wife, who has a fine art company visits any art gallery, then the cost of entry is a tax write off. Often the cost of getting there is a write off as well, but only if it is part of the business trip. For example to deliver a painting is a legitimate cost of operating the business. However, check with your accountant, who would be more knowledgeable of the tax loopholes in your area. Just something to think about.

Misslucinda, dividing the tuber will indeed put some stress on it, and possibly slow it down a little, but it will soon catch up. No need to worry.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 9:48AM
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I'm impressed by you and Poochella and Plantlady (not to dis flowerguy). You three are sort of the gurus of the dahlia forum (BTW in NY's Grand Central Station there is a flower store called Dahlia....thinking of changing my name).

The tuber clumps I divided last fall into singles finally have large eyes and appear on the brink of sprouting.

Since we are gabbing I might add that until I get a water source up to the outerreaches of my property (where there are raised beds astonishingly) I plant my dahlias in a bed against the south side of my white clapboard house and every year there is one guy who just wilts in the hot sun. Of course, my solution is to give him a cold beer (kidding) drink of water. Am I mistaken? Do these dinnerplates need less sun then I thought? I'm at the point where I have more tubers than I can plant and if less sun is an option, I would like to know.

Until I change my name to Dahlia (Lucinda being my husbands' nick-name for me), I am respectfully yours


    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 5:14PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

The more sun the better. They'll get really tall & leggy if they don't get a lot of sun. Try mulching after they're up & keep on giving them that extra draft when they look wilted!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 6:19PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Patricia, I am just a fellow gardener who has had some experience with many types of plants. I do not perceive myself as an expert but rather one who always wants to learn more. I do not mind sharing my experience with others. Mind you, there are always differences of location, sun, soil, etc so what one experiences may not be a carbon copy of what I experience. There are no guarantees that what works for some, will work for another.

I would be tempted to split the large clump which you mention. That way you'll have more plants, particularly if it is one that you like. If you don't split, you will end up with a large mass of tubers that will be more difficult to clean and separate in the fall.

You mentioned that you have a spot near the house which gets hot in the sun. Mine get hot too, but dahlias like the sun. I water well in the early morning, but not during the hot day. Mine will sometimes droop under really hot sun, but do come back in the evening. You might add more humous to the soil, so that it does not go dry. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it. You and I are not particularly comfortable if it gets really not, and so neither are the plants. If for some reason, I need to water mid-day, I will only use tepid water ( not cold - as it is a shock for them), and be absolutely certain that no water touches the leaves.

I would not plant dahlias in shade. Possible shade in the late afternoon, but getting sun in the morning and noon time. They perform best in the sun.

Oh, if you have too many tubers, I would still be tempted to pot them up, and then trade for plants that you want, OR donate them to your local horticultural society / garden club. Even the cemetery boards might appreciate them. That's what I do here.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 2:00PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

I consider Plantlady a guru, Jroot a seasoned professor and many other considerate posters experienced research assistants. Not a guru here, just one who tries to share what works for me year to year. I have learned much, appreciate the education, and will continue to do so. I hope others learn as well- there's always something new to try, different ways of doing things. You should see my cuttings, Plantlady' and I'm a regular whiz at paperpots thanks to Jroot's tutelage LOL!

On the wilting, as Plantlady says, here they almost all take a midday wilt when the sun is at its hottest. A very few varieties seem to wilt more, but yes, when it cools down, they bounce right back. When one wilts and stays wilted for a couple days, you've might have trouble. Disease or rotting tuber most likely.

See: Another lesson- I wouldn't have known about the tepid water vs cold shocking the roots. Plantlady you are wonderful with all that you share so kindly. And I simply cannot wait to see those dahlias from the north blooming here.

Back to paper pots.... I'm way behind.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 3:49PM
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Oh hello - I found you over on this thread! I'm re-posting this from a couple days ago since nobody has been on that other thread. Poochella are you out there? I can't believe I'm admitting this but I stayed up last night till after midnight putting my tubers into baggies with a cup or 2 of soil. Some of the White Perfection tubers were so gigantic I don't know what I would have done if I wasn't using the baggie method you told us about last yr. Anyway 30 or 40 bags later they are in. I wanted to ask you when to plant them out, or how to hold them till the temp is reliable. A lot of my tubers were already eyeing up - except of course the infamous Otto's Thrill which all looked like little shriveled rocks.

I was really tough on the spare tubers in the packaging and tossed a few of each type into a spare bag but most went to the compost pile. Last year I wasted so much time on tubers with no eyes.

I have always grown dahlias in containers but this year first time I made some space to plant out some of the really big dahlias like Thomas Edison, White Perfection and my buddy Otto. Now I finally have to pay attention to all the discussion about staking. What have you all decided - which is best? Last I paid attention you were on painted rebar - is that still the favorite?

Last question - will deer browse the dahlias? Are there any other critters that will bother them? I have every creature available in the Midwest but raccoons, squirrels and all the moles, voles and shrews are the worst. In fact last night while I was weeding after dark - the coyotes were howling down along the river. I have finally almost completely cleared out my old vegetable garden of perennials and shrubs and plan to set out some veggies and most of the dahlias. They will need staking, but the deer could definitely get in since the electric fence is now down. I need to spare them so I can be the only one knocking them down..

Looking forward to the season!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:38PM
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