What is an eye??

lisainmarylandNovember 17, 2007

So sorry, I just planted my first Dahlia's this spring. I had no idea that I had to dig them each year. I've been reading up on it recently, thanks to all your expertise out there. My question is what is an 'eye'? What does it look like specifically. I haven't dug mine yet, so I don't know what I'll find, but I want to be prepared.

Also, some of my dahlia's still have blooms on them. Do I wait until they 'die back' like tulips or cut them back now?

Thanks ahead of time, I have learned a lot from all of you already

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi! even though we have not had a frost or freeze yet I think you might cut them back to 6 or 8 inches above ground. Leave them a couple of weeks for eyes to develope. One picture being worth a lot of words click on the Colorado Dahlia Society web page and go to digging and dividing dahlias. If you still have questions come back on this thread. You will find help here. Steve in Baltimore County.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 5:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Poochella(7 WA)

An eye on a dahlia is a specialized set of cells that will go on to produce next year's plant/s. On a clump dug in fall, the eyes will look like small, raised white, yellow, and sometimes pinkish pimples . They are found on thickened toughened collar material around the stem of the plant from which tubers have grown, and are sometimes found on the underside of a clump. Some are latent eyes which haven't bulged out yet, so if in doubt, save that tuber and see what happens in Spring.

You must have an eye to produce plant growth for next year. The biggest mistake I've seen people make is hacking off the tuber right below the collar in the thinner neck. An eyeless tuber simply won't produce a plant- ever. "Blind tuber" is the term used to describe those. "Worthless" might be another. Here's one of those: tons of roots; nothing to grow. This tuber had no eye.

To get the eye and some tissue behind it, one has to stab/cut into the collar around the eye and sever that whole eyed tuber from the clump. It gets easier with practice. Hacking into halves or quarter clumps isn't out of the question, but I don't do that. I find it's easier with dividing clumps in fall when they are full of moisture and softer to cut. They will dry and harden up over winter making cutting tougher, but the shoots will often be much more obvious in Spring.

Photos of eyes on the collar of a clump/tuber.
Here's an obvious eye with another formed at about ten o'clock above it. Raised lighter pimples.

This cooperative variety has more obvious shoots, formerly eyes. There is an eye on the tiny tuber to the right, outlined in dark blue.

An eye outlined in blue.

central eye with brown, surrounded by 4 light 'pimples,' also eyes at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. An eye to the far upper right marked in blue on another tuber.

Some tubers have a pink cast when dug, but really obvious eyes. Not all well-formed tubers have eyes. Get those that do first, then move down to less desirable weak/thin-necked tubers which are prone to breaking or rotting.
I just found a tuber from 2006 in my garage, in a plastic bag all year- still waiting for that eye to show up. Obviously, it had no eye, and no growth potential, but I was suprised at what good shape it was in for a year out of the ground and no special treatment.

Eyes are much less obvious on these tubers, but it shows how one should be cutting into the collar material, not just cutting tubers off at the necks. As the tuber dries, the eyes will recess and re-emerge in spring like magic.

Dig in and excavate those good eyed tubers from your clump! I don't know how people do it with knives; thin sharp shears are dangerous enough for me.
I will cut along the blue line to separate these two tubers, each with eyes/shoots.

Good luck with your dividing this year. It isn't hard at all once you get the hang of it.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 11:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

See, I told you a picture is worth a lot of words. Steve in Baltimore County.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 12:22AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
new to dalias, looking for short varieties
Looking to try growing dahlias on my balcony. I'd like...
Nick Sr. blooms
How many blooms (total) can one expect from a newly...
New to Dahlias. help my tubers are drying out
HI everyone. I dug my dahlias and washed them before...
Any dahlias that won't get powdery mildew???
I'm not interested in spraying my garden, not even...
Prepping for winter
Hello! I am new to Dahlias, really to gardening in...
Sponsored Products
Franklin Chair - Key Largo Graphite Brown
Joybird Furniture
Vap 70 Outdoor Bollard by SLV
$596.00 | Lumens
Crystal Cove Silver Mist Three-Light Pendant with Turinian Scavo Glass
$359.90 | Bellacor
Safavieh Indoor/ Outdoor Seaview Natural/ Blue Rug (6'7 x 9'6)
Ashworth Outdoor Rug
$29.00 | FRONTGATE
Laurel Court Giclee Clip-On Set of Four Shades 3x6x5
$49.99 | Lamps Plus
Authentic Models Captain's Desk, Ivory
Classic Hostess
Leland Blue Pave Corner Square Frame
$100.00 | Horchow
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™