GROW YOUR OWN CUTTING GARDEN: SUCCESS FROM SEED TO VASE
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Are you a beginner dahlia grower? If so, you probably have lots of questions about dahlias and how they are grown. I’m here to help answer some of your questions!
1. HOW ARE DAHLIAS GROWN?
Dahlias are grown from tubers, which are “bulbs” that grow underground. Dahlia tubers are a lot like potatoes – you plant one tuber and end up with many more at the end of the season.
Dahlias CAN be grown from seed, but dahlias grown from seed are not genetically stable and often turn out to be “duds”. I do not recommend this method for beginner growers.
Growing from tubers is the easiest and most popular way to grow dahlias. To grow a dahlia plant, all you need is ONE tuber with ONE “eye”/sprout.
A viable tuber needs to have an “Eye”, a neck and a body. If the “tail” is too long, you can cut off up to 3/4 of the tail and the tuber is still viable.
For new growers, locating the “eye” can be tricky at first, but with practice you’ll be able to spot them.
When you plant one tuber in the spring, the plant will grow and multiply… and when you dig up the plant in the fall, you will have MULTIPLE tubers! It’s like magic!
Yes, ALL of these tubers in the photo below grew from ONE tuber! Each one of these tubers can be planted out and now you have over a dozen plants!
2. DO ALL TUBERS LOOK THE SAME? DOES THE SIZE OF THE TUBER MATTER?
NO!!!!! There are thousands of different types of dahlias…. and each one grows it’s tubers a little differently. There is a shocking amount of variety in shape and size!
Some are tiny and slim, like a pencil. Some are short and stubby, with little to no neck. Some are huge and chunky. Some are skinny with loooooooong necks.
The size of the tuber is irrelevant in most cases. We grow some varieties of dahlias that never produce tubers larger than our pinky, while some produce HUGE tubers that we have to cut down to size. It all depends on the variety of dahlia.
Here is an example of some of the dahlias we grow. Notice how all of them look completely different! Each one of these tubers is good example of their variety.
3. MY TUBERS LOOK A LITTLE SHRIVELED. WILL THEY STILL GROW?
In most cases, YES. Remember, as long as the tuber has an eye, it will grow.
Give the tuber a squeeze.
Is it soft and pliable? It’s probably still ok. Plant it!
Is it mushy and oozing? Throw it out.
Is it brittle and cracked? Throw it out.
Here is an example of a tuber that is completely dried out and desiccated, and does not have an eye. This one will not grow.
Here is an example of one that looks ugly, wrinkly and a little dried out…. but it will still grow. Notice the eye at the top. This tuber is not pretty, but it will still get the job done!
Sometimes the “neck” on the tuber is slightly cracked or flaking. As long as it’s not completely broken off, it should still grow!
4. CAN I “POT UP” MY DAHLIA TUBERS TO GIVE THEM A HEAD START?
Absolutely! We pot up a couple varieties each year, but the vast majority are NOT started in pots, simply because we don’t have room to pot up 1,000+ tubers 😉
Potting up is easy. Simply fill a 4” pot with potting soil, stick the tail end of the tuber in the soil and leave the head sticking out. Keep the soil slightly damp, allowing it to dry out between waterings. Do NOT over-water, as tubers can rot in wet conditions.
Keep the pots in a warm, sunny spot.
(You can watch a video demonstration of the process HERE)
After a few weeks, you will notice the eyes beginning to sprout and roots poking out of the bottom of the pot. Hooray! The tuber has done it’s job! The tuber is simply a food source until the plant creates roots.
Roots starting to poke out the bottom!
Eventually, the eye will turn into a sprout!
Bonus: If you are plant savvy and know how to make “cuttings” of plants, you can make cuttings from your tubers and propagate/clone them that way. It generally has about at 50-75% success rate, depending on your skill level. It does NOT hurt or damage the tuber, and the tuber will send up more sprouts to replace the one you cut off.
When it’s time to plant them outside, simply dig a hole about 6 inches deep and wide. Take the sprouted tuber out of the pot and bury it so the head is a couple inches below the surface of the soil. If the sprout sticks out of the soil, great!
If not, no worries! It will grow and emerge from the soil in no time. And if you accidentally break off the sprout – do not panic! It will grow a new one.
Hope this information helps! if you have any more questions, leave them below!
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