Uh Oh did I mess up?

kitkat_oregon(7)May 8, 2008

Upon reading all the posts here regarding planting methods for dahlias, I need some advise. I planted lots of dahlias this spring for my cut flower business and upon receiving the tubers, I dug my holes and looking at the shape of the tubers, with their 'fingers' hanging down I mounded up the center of the hole so that they sat with the middle of the tuber on the top of the mound and the fingers hanging down the sides and filled in the holes. Some of them had eyes showing and some did not. The ones that had eyes are showing signs of life but the others are not. Did I plant these wrong? TIA for any input. Kat

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Poochella(7 WA)

Sounds perfectly fine to me Kitkat. I like to make sure I have an eyed tuber before I plant to avoid wasting the space on a dud. But even without eyes showing, if they had them to begin with, they will develop and grow from underground if all goes well.

Time will tell. Some are very slow to get going, so keep that in mind. Good luck with your dahlias.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:07PM
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Thanks poochella. I shall wait. I dont know if the vendor will credit me for ones that dont come up, I bought them in bulk from someone who doesnt specialise in dahlias and he has already given me false information regarding the 'fingers' on the dahlias. Oh well. Thanks again. Kat

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 8:58AM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

You could GENLY dig them up by pulling up the soil around them with a shovel and then carefully pull the dirt away till you can see what you need to see and then replant facing the right way. (they didn't go in THAT long ago did they?)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 8:47PM
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triple b, they got planted about a month ago and alot of them are actually coming up so I dont think I planted them upside down, but you never know, I will try to poke around the ones that are not showing any growth and see if they are upside down. Should they have been laid on their sides with all the tubers or 'fingers' laying in one direction? Thanks for the input. Kat

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 8:09PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Even if planted upside down, I bet that any existing shoot would find its way upward toward heat and light. My point was that the non-sprouters might either be slow starters, or not have any eyes to begin with, so you may be waiting on absolutely nothing. That's why I like to watch them before I plant them.

It sounds like you got commercially produced pot roots Kat, with lots of (usually) broken 'fingers' hanging off a tight knot of smaller tubers clustered around an old cut off stem. I fell for a few packs of those at a big variety store and 2 of 3 clumps have yet to show any signs of growth. Sometimes you get all good tubers, it's just not very good quality control in those cases, in my opinion. And it's a shame the dahlia eager shopper might not know what to look for which are signs of growth: an eye or shoot already showing on the shelf in the store in either light green, pink or purple showing signs of life from the dull brown tuber.

If you really wonder, I would do as Triple B said and unearth them, put them in light and barely damp soil with the crown/stem exposed and see if you do see growth in a few days. If you do, you can replant them with confidence.

I have nothing against potroots, but those haggard, dried out, broken masses that are packed in bulk are often a lost cause and you're better off spending your $ on a solid dahlia vendor's tubers or potroots. For what it's worth.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 10:07PM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

FWIW, Dahlias are shallow root plants. They'd be happier if the tubers are planted on their side, keeping the tuber closer to the surface and less distance for both root and sprout to travel.

That's only for next year, for now, you've got all the advice you need. I just wanted to point out there's a "right" way to plant tubers when you can choose.

I personally will be planting several tubers upright, as opposed to on their side, because that's how the sprouts have formed. Like poochella has pointed out, they'll do just fine.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:49PM
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Thanks for all the info, good people. I did purchase these from the same guy that I get all my lilies and glads from. Great stock on these two, so I made an assumption that he would be selling great dahlias too. I reckon I am suffering a loss of about 20% on the entire order of dahlias so far. The others are showing pretty strong growth and I am hopeful. The prices for the dahlias listed from the vendors mentioned in the other post regarding where you guys shop, are way higher by the each than I paid. I guess you really do get what you pay for. Oh well, next year will be different. Russ, when you say that you plant the whole thing on its side to you mean that you lay the whole thing flat, fingers and all on its side in a long hole? Sorry for being a bit daft about this but I would like to get it right next time. Thanks again. Kat

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:56PM
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Russ - your comment on dahlia's being shallow rooted-
Ithought they liked to end up planted about 6" deep?
I always start mine open and add soil as the shoots come up. am I going too deep?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 10:39PM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

Not in my experience.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 2:47AM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Welcome back Alyrics:) Got Otto's Thrill this year?

Kitkat, going back to your planting question about fingers etc. and how to plant them. I've had tightly knit little globes of tubers with broken fingers of tubers hanging off. I cut those off as they only get in the way of new root space, then plant with the eye having access to the sky. Some pot roots I got were very long thin tubers (without the tightly knit core globes of tuber,) they eyed up and I did lay those fingers to the side as they all aimed in one direction. Like a swimming squid.

A single tuber can be set in the ground like you'd set a baking potato or carrot on a countertop, unless like Russ said, the shoot is coming off at an angle that makes planting at a steeper angle more accommodating for the shoot. I had to do that yesterday.

I wouldn't consternate too much, just get them in the ground! There have been discarded tubers from the prior year cast away in a debris pile that have come back to grow the following year without any benefit of winter protection, careful planting techniques, water or fertilizer. Dahlias can be fickle or forgiving, but if you give them even half a chance you're going to get flowers.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 11:11AM
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I don't know about Otto - last yrs didn't produce well at all so I surmise the tubers were weak and prob didn't make it. I couldn't believe how badly I treated my tubers from last yr and how many lived to tell about it this spring.
I basically cut the stems off at about 6", put them in paper bags without washing and thought about them from time to time in the garage in a box. The sprouted eyes are planted out, and pots of maybe's are starting to sprout.

On the sprouted tubers that had some funky sprout poking in the wrong direction - I put them in the way I want them to go but didn't cover them all the way. The sprouts have all righted themselves and prob next week I'll be able to add soil to fully cover the tubers.

I just love dahlias - I'm such a goofball!
I spend less and less on them every yr but they give me so much pleasure in the late growing season. I think I' might find out about entering the county fair this yr just for fun.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Poochella, in reference to the tuber that looks like a baked potato, I dug up one of these that had no 'fingers' left, they were all soft and rotten, but the tuber itself is very hard but there is no sprouting action at all, and only a few white roots. Is this a dud? I perhaps should have told you all that these are all Karma dahlias, does that make any difference? In reference to the planting of the long fingers, I was told that these would not grow at all and so I have relegated them to the compost pile, will they grow there? I would really love to figure out how to grow these really well, are there any books that you would recommend? Thanks, Kat

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 10:45AM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

FWIW, I butchered my tubers last year and had more than a few that grew roots but no eyes; ergo no sprouts. No matter what you do to the tuber, if there isn't the right crown material attached to it, it will never sprout.

Your next question may well be; "what is the right crown material?" Well, my answer will be that it is crown material which has shown eyes forming. IOWs, its a matter of leaving the tuber in the ground after the frost so that it begins to eye up before you cut the tubers apart...or, doing the same thing in spring; let the tuber clump warm up, show eyes, and then cut it.

I read a ton of descriptions and still botched the work...because my tuber clumps didn't have any eyes when I tried to cut them apart.

Finally, and again FWIW, the longest it took a tuber of mine to produce a sprout capable of cutting (note: not an eye, but a sprout) was 9 weeks and 2 days (Matchmaker, Outta Da Blue, Iceberg, Patches). I have another, Playboy, that still hasn't produced a sprout capable of cutting and its been almost 11 weeks.

So, either wait that long, or call it on account of lack of crown.

To me, its a dud tuber if there's no eye within a month.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 8:14PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Russ summed it up nicely on needing crown material with eye tissue to begin with to produce a plant. I'd say a month is about the longest I'd wait too before tossing as a 'blind' tuber. (Maybe longer if I really, really wanted that variety.)

Kitkat, chopping off the rotted fingers was good. Get rid of anything rotten to prevent it from spreading. I should ask if the 'fingers' are coming off the crown near the old stem, or off the larger main tuber. If they originate off the tuber, you'll have no dahlias because they lack crown material like Russ said. If healthy, the compost pile is a perfect place for unusable tubers but anything rotted or discolored gets treated as trash here.

Books, hmmm. Bill McLaren's book is highly regarded. The ADS puts out "Raising Dahlias the Easy Way" which might be useful. Check Amazon or such for others.

Here is a link that might be useful: dahlia books

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:14PM
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