Is it OK to start many dahlias in pots then transplant later?

HighlanderNorthApril 17, 2012

I removed about 1/2 of my dormant tubers from the refrigerator where they finished up their 'rough' winter dormancy after a winter with variable temps.

This is the 1st time I've successfully wintered tubers for the next season. I tried it before, but got bad advice on a gardening site, that told me to place the dormant tubers, unseparated into completely dry sawdust or wood chips and into a cool area. I did that, then 1 month later, they had shriveled up and died!

So this year, I separated them, so that the fate of one tuber wouldnt be shared by all the other connected tubers. If 1 or 2 dried up, they wouldnt take the others with them. But I had gotten more bad advice from the web early on. They said to leave the tubers out in the open after separating to let them form scabs over the cut areas, for 4-5 days. I did this, and after only 3 days, they were shriveling up again! So I had to place them in wet paper towels to rehydrate the tubers for a few days til I could put them in boxes covered by very slightly 'moistened' peat moss. That seemed to work well.

But at first, when I dug them up and separated them, I couldnt locate eyes on more than maybe 2 out of 10 tubers. So I figured that once spring comes around, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 would grow eyes and the rest would be thrown out.

So today I dug them out of the largest of 3 boxes, and cleaned them off, rewrote the initials onto each tuber identifying them and looked for eyes. They had been warm for over a week now, so the eyes had formed. Turns out, 18 or 25 had eyes growing, 2 were questionable(maybe, maybe not), and only 5 dont have eyes. So 75 - 80% are viable!

Anyway, I still have the other 1/2 left in the frig. 4 more being mailed to me from Hilltop dahlias. Bottom line: I'm overwhelmed with tubers!

I took 2 12" pots, filled them to within 4" of the top with peat moss, then placed the 18 tubers into the pots, and covered with about 2.5-3" of soil. I want to be able to dig them up and sell some at our local tuber sale/trade show, transplant some, or give some away later. Only 1 will stay in each pot eventually, but it too will have to be replanted.

Is that going to be a problem? Is it OK to pack them in(8-10 per pot) for a couple weeks or so, then dig them up or transplant them?

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oscarthecat(z7MD)

Sure lots of growers do that to get an early start.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 6:10PM
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Noni Morrison

I do that with mine. Then as they eye up good and I see which ones will grow well I take them out and plant them into 4" pots (For smaller tubers, or gallons if they are large and let them grow and get off to a good start before planting out time. That way you do not waste potting soil and pots on dahlias that don't bud up or decide to rot instead.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 6:25PM
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libby123

What is the ideal temperature for starting dahlias in pots. I live in a colder area and can't plant out till mid May. I like to start them in the house and move outside, still in pots ASAP. I'd appreciate thoughts on how warm the day time temp needs to be. I already have 15 out of 40 sprouted in the house, but would like to move them outside since I'm tired of my house smelling like dirt!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Noni Morrison

You can actually plant them out as soon as your last freeze is passed. In the meantime you can take them outside for the day gradually so their leaves become used to full sun. Do yo have a porch where they could spend the time between now and planting time, where you could cover them if it gets very wet?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:50PM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

Since I'm in the definite minority I'm probably wrong, but I see a problem. Some of mine grow roots like crazy and if the roots are disturbed, they break easily. I think you will have difficulties separating your tubers with that many in one pot.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:00AM
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maxyck

I have four dahlia tubers put in pots indoors. They are sprouted and I have them in non-fertilized Promix. How often should I fertilize them ? Would a10-15-10 liquid fertilizer be ok? That's what I am using on a few I'm growing from seed. Any help is appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 7:36AM
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Noni Morrison

If you used a potting soil with fertilizer in it, do you really need to add more now? Do the leaves show signs of lacking fertilizer? Out of several hundred, 2 of mine have pale yellowish leaves and all the rest look fine and healthy. I dosed those two today with a balanced fertilizer. Learn to look at your plants and see what they are telling you. Don't buy into the hype over fertilizers. I only fertilize mine when I plant them out in the garden by mixing alfalfa pellets, compost and organic tomato fertilizer into the soil I plant them into. Mostly depends on the brand of potting mix you use and what is in it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 5:13PM
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maxyck

The potting soil I'm using has no fertilizer in it. This is why I was wondering if I used some liquid 10-15-10, occasionally. Thanks for your response! Max

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Noni Morrison

Definitely fertilize then and your choice sounds fine.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:25AM
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