Yikes! Monster dahlias eating my garden!

kmickleson(z9 CA)July 20, 2005

I've been researching here on division because my lovely garden, of which dahlias were meant to only be a part, has now, in year 3, become dominated by 5'-6' monsters which flop beyond my staking/support resources, and obscure roses & many other things near them. While I love dahlias, I need them to be neighborly companions to my roses & perennials. To this end, I have some questions.

After reading the great 'splitting dahlia tubers - photos' thread, I'm realizing I should have been dividing them every year. Some questions:

1. How would the set of procedures outlined in that thread differ for those living in z 9, California, where you don't have to take tubers out of the ground to overwinter them? Would spring or fall division make more sense? Or even winter here, before the rains, but after I've cut down the flowers to stalks? [That might give them a little time to develop new eyes?]

2. Is there a way to estimate how many tuber 'bulbettes' to re-plant if I still want that dahlia next season, but not monsters? The 'offending' ones I have are mostly dinner plates, spider & cactus'.

3. Given my zone, would I just re-plant right after dividing, or, is there some benefit to storing & waiting to plant them?

Thanks,

Karen

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Poochella(7 WA)

Karen, welcome!

One: do you "top" your dahlias? That would help control the monster height, force the plant to send out more laterals for more blooms. Some varieties are just tall genetically. See the link for topping- too late for this year, but next year you'll be ready.

One again- referring to your above questions. If I were you in that warm climate I'd do late winter or Spring division when the plants are waking up and will show shoots or eyes bulging for easier division. Then you can just replant the divisions after drying and protecting the places you made cuts, i.e. sulphur dust on the cuts.

2. One tuber with one viable eye = one plant. Tuber numbers have nothing to do with tall plants (unless it's a tall variety,) but a multi-eyed clump or single tuber with multiple eyes will make a bushier plant with many main stalks. Most people limit their growth to one shoot/eye per tuber for the health of the eventual bloom.

So if you want to assure you keep your variety going for the next season, plant at least one tuber, if not more, but each in separate places. Send extras to any number of dahlia enthusiasts here or trade for new varieties!

3. I can't really answer. Protect the in-ground clump from overt sogginess during the rains. Straw, leaves, fern fronds, etc stacked up to ward off a lot of rain work well.

Last, I think you should post at least one of your fabulous bouquet photos here in the Gallery- even if they're not all dahlias, they are gorgeous and awesome.

Here is a link that might be useful: Topping your dahlias

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 8:43PM
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kmickleson(z9 CA)

Thanks, Pooch peach. It's odd to visit a new forum & be recognized by someone who's known of you from another!

Topping? We're talking whipped cream & almonds in my book! Thanks for the link, & I'll study up. Thanks for the tuber numbers info...You said, "Tuber numbers have nothing to do with tall plants (unless it's a tall variety"... Well, how does one know if you're dealing with a tall variety, and how do you respond if that's so? Aren't dinner plates "tall varieties"? My cacti are up to 5' at least.

How sweet of you to remember my bouquet photos. Actually, I almost said in my initial post, "I'll post photos of some of my dahlias in case any of you want them", but then, edited it out because I feared being overwhelmed by requests which I might not later feel up to filling. I want to *in spirit*, but sometimes, I get lazy and/or depressed, and lose motivation, and didn't want to promise something I wasn't able to fulfill. If folk want to be on an "in case I'm able" list of send-to-me's, I'm happy to keep it alive! I really only have 8 dahlias, and figure they're common enough that many others already have 'em.

Here are some of my dahlia bouquets:

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:14PM
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kmickleson(z9 CA)

Thanks, Pooch peach. It's odd to visit a new forum & be recognized by someone who's known of you from another!

Topping? We're talking whipped cream & almonds in my book! Thanks for the link, & I'll study up. Thanks for the tuber numbers info...You said, "Tuber numbers have nothing to do with tall plants (unless it's a tall variety"... Well, how does one know if you're dealing with a tall variety, and how do you respond if that's so? Aren't dinner plates "tall varieties"? My cacti are up to 5' at least.

How sweet of you to remember my bouquet photos. Actually, I almost said in my initial post, "I'll post photos of some of my dahlias in case any of you want them", but then, edited it out because I feared being overwhelmed by requests which I might not later feel up to filling. I want to *in spirit*, but sometimes, I get lazy and/or depressed, and lose motivation, and didn't want to promise something I wasn't able to fulfill. If folk want to be on an "in case I'm able" list of send-to-me's, I'm happy to keep it alive! I really only have 8 dahlias, and figure they're common enough that many others already have 'em.

Here are some of my dahlia bouquets:

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:15PM
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kmickleson(z9 CA)

I don't know why that showed twice. Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:16PM
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GreatbluebabyCT(z6CT)

Kmikleson,
Wow those are absolutely Beautiful especally the bouquet in the red vase.
WOW
Thanks so much for posting!
Happy Gardening
Laura

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:59PM
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grannymarsh(z4-5 U.P. MICH)

Beautiful Bouquets. I love how the Madras Table cover echoes and emphasize the colors of the flowers. Changing the color of the vases gives them a whole new look. Different colors pop out. Excellent design concepts.
Nice photos, thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 11:55PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Wow! Those look like professional arrangements, and photography - simply breathtaking - we needed to see them twice! LOL....

Anna

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 9:56AM
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Dahlia_Linda(8 Wash)

Karen- The ideal way to store dahlias over the winter is in the ground. Some of us don't have that option.
For you, dig in the spring when you know the eyes/shoots will be showing. You would want to split up you clump of tubers with some eyes/shoots on them. Then replant no more that a clump of 3 tubers. One tuber is best, but sometimes they rot and you have none. I like to plant a clump of 2.
Topping is when you pinch out the top of the plant after it gets 3 to 4 sets of leaves. This makes the plant send out laterals at each set of leaves, which makes the plant bushy and also helps to control the height some what.
Linda

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 10:14AM
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CAstarter(Z9 OC, CA)

I too am in CA and wonder how the dividing went. I can view pictures on how to split, hope I get it right as this will be first time this spring :)

Questions I still have are, once I cut and divide and put sulfer dust on (is this only thing I can use or are there other options) how long do I dry and how do I do that...?

Thanks...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 7:56PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

Castarter-- You really don't have to dust them with anything- we don't use anything at all because I'm really allergic to most of it esp. sulphur. You're going to replant right away so probably don't need to use anything- the sulphur is usually just to try & prevent rot when storing over the winter. If you want to you can give them a spray with Lysol- it's good in preventing mould & not as bad on the lungs as sulphur. Or you could give them a dip in a weak bleach solution - but as I said, nothing is really needed. Out of about- let's see-- 6,000+ plants x aprox. 4 to 12 tubers per plant (you do the math!) so far this year we've only lost 9 tubers.
Let them dry a day or 2 & replant. Just leave them out in the air but not on cement as it will draw the moisture right out of the tuber.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:02AM
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CAstarter(Z9 OC, CA)

Plantlady,

Thanks, I appreciate the info. Wow, you really have a lot of dahlias....I have one! I want more, but dont have LOTS Of space. I do have space for one or two more, Id like a white one and possibly a light yellow or light pink one.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:16AM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

We do have a lot of dahlias- but we only have 1 acre of our 62 acre farm in dahlias so we have lots of room for MORE! In 1965 I had one dahlia- & look at us now- addicted!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 7:52PM
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