Do you cut and separate your tubers now, or wait til spring?

HighlanderNorthNovember 19, 2011

I am just wondering whether there is an advantage to separating them now. Such as, maybe if they are separate, they have a better chance of surviving the winter, as maybe if they are connected, they might all dry out, or rot together, but separately maybe they are better protected from any mutual problems(?)

But I see 3 problems with trying to separate them now:

1. It is very difficult to find eyes on them right now.

2. The tubers are all connected to humps or ridges that jut out from the stem, but in many cases, 2 or 3 tubers are connected to the same hump. I've seen 2 cases where 2 tubers are connected to the same hump, and there is an eye exactly in the middle of that hump, so it's impossible to figure out which tuber that eye belongs to.

3. There are some tubers that dont seem to be connected to a hump at all, they seem to be connected directly to the perpendicular stem, or they are connected in between humps, or underneath of the cluster. So does that mean they wont grow eyes, or will the eye grow out of the stem?

How do you cut them so that you know that an eye will form later in the spring, and how do you figure out where the eye will be? Do you just cut a large area of hump that's connected to the neck, and hope you got it right, and how do you perform that considering the 3 problems listed above?


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Hello Highlander

I used to leave them in the ground and dig/divide in the spring. I'd lose some, but in most cases, there were enough that had at least one tuber that could be put back into the ground. I repeated this for maybe 10 years or more!

Why did I stop? Winter of 2009-2010, I went to dig over 150 plants, I only found maybe 5-6 tubers that were good enough to replant. Everything else was either rotting or totally rotted. It was a winter that started with a hard freeze, followed by a lot of rain.

Why separate them? First, the stem is inclined to rot, likely taking the tubers with them. And you got it right, if they're together, one rots, the one next to it is likely to rot too.

As for separation of the tubers, if you go to You Tube and type in dahlias, you'll be surprised at the demos that you can find.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 3:42PM
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thanks for the information about separating tubers. I was going to post the same question. This is my first year with dahlias and I never heard of eyes. I guess your advice to go to you tube will finish my education. I live in eastern Washington so our weather is a lot dryer and colder. I have my tubers separated by variety in the garage now. Will have to look for eyes.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 12:17AM
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A picture is a lot better than the description that I can give, and a video demo is frankly MUCH better than I could give. And . . . my heaviest personal experience for finding eyes is in the spring, when . . . not only do you find an eye, you find something green happening. That's not quite what the eyes look like at this time of year.

I started digging today. Barely touched what's outside, but now have the fruits of 6 clumps on the floor of the garage waiting to dry and be packed in a bin full of cedar shavings.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 5:49PM
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1. It is very difficult to find eyes on them right now. - True. I ask the question - Where would I be if I were an eye? Usually if you get enough of what you call a 'hump' - you will end up with an eye.

2. " many cases, 2 or 3 tubers are connected to the same hump." - I will often just keep those two tubers together. It's better than keeping everything together.

3. "There are some tubers that dont seem to be connected to a hump at all..." Yes. the most frustrating part of a healthy tuber clump is that it is a big mess. The best thing is to start with the ones that are obvious. Then, it may reveal the ones that are less obvious. There are some tubers that are not on a 'hump' and they just might not get an eye.

Last year, I left some clumps all together, and other clumps I divided and wrapped tubers individually in saran wrap. The saran wrapped tubers were much healthier in the spring.

I agree that it is usefull to watch the videos; but I'll be honest - the videos sometimes annoy me because they make it look SO EASY. It's not. :)

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 10:31PM
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Yes Honnat . . that's true. They do make it look easier than it is. But for them, it really is easy!!!!

This year, I got some new sharp pruners, and they make dividing so much easier! People recommend ones that you have to send away for, and I didn't have time to wait. So I found some that looked similar to what was advised and could walk out of a store with. They work a lot better than what I've used in the past!

I'm glad that someone else doesn't look for eyes. Last year I tried, but it took me forever to put up my tubers for the year. This year, I'm going for the (as you call them) humps where the eyes should be, then I'll wait to see what they look like in the spring. Or maybe do a closer review when I look through my stash during the winter, once my stash is amassed. I expect that most of what I've cut will have an eye.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 11:16PM
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