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Gonzo dahlias...

Posted by thecitychicken SW Washington ( on
Wed, Feb 14, 07 at 13:13

I tend to "gonzo" garden, in that I don't always follow the rules but I always have fun. :) Yesterday I had to dig up four dahlia tubers. We're having a fence installed and so I had to move a large raised bed. They were my first dahlias from Mingus Dahlias, and when I dug them up (Feb. 13!) they looked like they had reproduced a lot and were all healthy looking. I brought them inside, washed them off, and divided them to the best of my ability after reading how to do it on the 'net. Now they are in a bag with some absorbent material. I know this is the wrong time of year to do all of this, but should I go back out and plant them, or should I wait until May 1st? Thanks!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Gonzo dahlias...

  • Posted by jroot 5A Ont. Canada (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 14, 07 at 17:08

If I were you, I would wait until May when all danger of frost is over. Let them rest.

RE: Gonzo dahlias...

They were fine in the ground weren't they? I would put them back at the same level or plant them elsewhere. They are used to that now. Just make sure the ground is not boggy where they are, and if we get a monster storm pile some straw over them.

I loose a lot more to drying and mold inside then I ever do outside in the ground. I Am assuming that our climates are similar and that you also have daffs coming up and tree buds swelling. It is a couple of weeks late but it is on its way here.

Maybe I am a Gonzo GArdener too but it has worked for me for years now. If you want you could pot them up in Gallon pots and set them under lights to get a head start before planting out in May.

RE: Gonzo dahlias...

Hm, two differing opinions, two good arguments. My thought is that I could do it either way and I'll probably be okay due to the relatively mild weather in the Pacific NW. Maybe I will try planting some now and some in May. Split the risk. I wanted to plant some right next to our new chain link fence, but when it rains, the clay soil gets sodden. Not good for dahlias. I would have to amend with a lot of sandy stuff first. Anyway, thanks guys...feel free to chime in with any other thoughts if they come to you.

Oh! And another thing...I didn't have any vermiculite, so I put the divided tubers in a big ziploc bag and covered them with all natural pelleted sawdust, normally used for animal bedding. Should I leave them in that, or will that dry them out too much? If I don't want to go buy special dahlia storing medium, what can I store them in? A plain paper bag? Or wrap them in plastic? Or put them in some Miracle Gro potting mix? What?


RE: Gonzo dahlias...

I wouldn't put them back in the ground until the ground warms up and new roots can start..May. They could rot since the roots and dirt have been disturbed.
Wrap them in the new Glad product Press & Seal. I have used it in wrapping all my cut dahlias this winter, each one individualy. Just twist the ends and the tuber is airtight. Some will still rot but it works much better than Saran wrap.
If you don't want to do that just put them in plastic grocery bags and loosly twist the top (if that makes sense)so a small amount of air exchange takes place. If that won't work then close the bags tightly and open them about once a week to get some air exchange. You want some air exchange but not too much if you can't make them air tight. The medium is important so they have enough mositure close to them to keep them from shriveling so coarse virmiculite is the way to go. Perlite does well too but if one rots the rot seems to transfer to other tubers easily in perlite.

RE: Gonzo dahlias...

My inclination would be to say let your cut wounds from dividing dry to the touch, hit them with some antifungal or Lysol and replant half, store half in the method of your choice. A bag and sawdust work well for many.

Protect the planted ones from any excess moisture we might still have here and you might be pleasantly surprised in April or May. Keep the slugs away!

Huey, I hated that Glad Press and Seal! I thought it might be the cats' meow for tuber wrapping, but no way. It was too sticky, too tedious for many tubers per season, too hard to see through. But I will say that the very few tubers I wrapped in it, held up well. So did the ones in aluminum foil!

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