Dahlias forum: Dahlias in Michigan .... newbie questions

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Name: Kathy Rinke
Brown City, MI
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Tree_climber
Feb 8, 2015 11:30 AM CST
Hi All,

My grandfather grew and showed Dahlias, back in the late 30's/40's. He died before I was born, but because of his interest, I grow a few each year in his honor.

I have never been able to successfully store them (Grandpa had what we call a Michigan basement, dirt walls) consequently, I have always grown them as annuals. I like the large tall one's and the tall pompoms.

I hope to go to a Dahlia Sale in the Detroit area, but think it's in May. Isn't that a bit late if I want to jump-start them in pots?

Photo of Grandma, and her Cousin, in Grandpa's Dahlia Garden. Notice the Dahlia corsage ... think they had just been to a show.


Thumb of 2015-02-08/Tree_climber/e85716

Kathy
Brown City, MI
zone 5
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Feb 8, 2015 11:46 AM CST
Hi Kathy
Are you interested in trying again to store them? I use the saran wrap method and it works great. I can look for a link of instructions if you want.

I start my dahlias in pots because I have experienced rotting starting them in the ground and having a very wet spring. I can control the moisture better in pots. But, I in my experience they do not bloom any earlier starting them im pots. I don't think getting tubers in May is too late.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Feb 8, 2015 11:55 AM CST
Love that photo, Kathy!
Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Feb 10, 2015 9:32 AM CST
Hi All,

Kathy- I'd like to learn how to store them too. What hasn't worked for you?

Jennifer,-When do you start them in pots? And where/how do you care for them indoors? This is my first time growing dahlia's. I picked some up already.... earlier than I would have liked to, and I think it's way too early to put in pots? I'm in zone 6b also. What's your saran wrap method? Thanks!
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Feb 10, 2015 10:20 AM CST
There is no one answer to "how do you store tubers?" There are many different methods and most of us dedicated dahlia growers have tried them all at one time or another. What complicates the issues isn't the method, many of which work just fine, but what is your situation regarding storage? Ideally do you have a nice cool place around 45-50F that is both dry and dark? Another is when you dig them and how you process them. Conventional wisdom says wait until the tops turn black with frost, then wait two weeks. This allows the tubers to develop a tough skin and also puts the plant on notice to start pumping energy to building the tuber up for the winter rather than toward plant and bloom. The timing can be a problem for some in warmer areas or those having unpredictable weather. Rolling on the floor laughing I know. That would be all of us. But some people have weather that gets cold, then warms up, then gets cold, and rains, then snows. You can see what I mean. We, here in Alaska, pretty much just get colder and colder then freeze solid, then snow.

From here it gets complicated. Some dig the tubers shake off the dirt, let them dry a few days and then store the entire clumps in cardboard boxes. Some dig, wash the dirt off thoroughly, let dry three or four days, then cut the tubers apart, each tuber with an eye. (another topic all of its own.) Then they are stored in peat, perlite, vermiculite, a lite mixture of all three, sawdust, you pick the media. The idea is to give the tubers something that can absorb excess moisture (so they don't rot) and yet prevent drying out and shriveling. That is where the saran method comes in. After drying, some wrap each individual tuber in saran. The idea is that the tuber is prevented from drying out (so very important to make sure they are quite dry), and if one rots it doesn't affect any others. Okay if you only have a few dozen, pretty difficult if you have a few hundred.

Some tubers will try to grow over the winter, some you can't even see an eye on. No clue why. For me, I take mine out of storage around the middle of March (a little early if your last frost date is May 31). For those sprouting, I pot them up. For the others I lay them in flats half into the soil (horizontal not vertical) and water lightly. When they sprout I pot them up. If they don't then I pitch them.

I am sure others will add to these comments which should help clarify any points I missed or didn't represent correctly. Good Luck.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
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Kabby
Feb 10, 2015 11:16 AM CST
@Oberon46 Mary Stella I don't intend to dig mine next winter but your reply was very informative nevertheless. I have been enjoying all the replies to us dahlia newbies. Thank You!
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 10, 2015 12:25 PM CST
Kabby - if you read what the suppliers say to do, regarding storing dahlias, you'll be more confused than ever! Some wash, some don't, while some keep them upside down (to drain them of water) for two or three days and others drain them for 7 days or more.

You may want to contact the closest dahlia group to you, or your County Extension Service, to get their methods.
http://www.dahliasocietyofalabama.org/

Your tubers will likely double if you don't dig them so you'll face having to dig just to separate them or they become huge and difficult to cut apart. They can't get enough food to keep them healthy when they get too big and the only way you'll know is by digging.
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Feb 10, 2015 3:33 PM CST
This article on digging, dividing and storing may be helpful.

For storage, I have had the best luck with individually wrapping the tubers in saran, after dusting them with an anti-fungal, but I do have a cool dry place to store them.

http://cubits.org/Dahlias/articles/view/534/
Name: Kathy Rinke
Brown City, MI
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Tree_climber
Feb 10, 2015 3:49 PM CST
Great information everyone.

I've tried several methods, but I think my biggest problem is not having a good storage location. I've tried our basement .... though cooler than upstairs, it is heated. I've tried our garage ... too cold. Tried the barn .... really too cold.

I'll read all the information you so kindly gave me links to.
Kathy
Brown City, MI
zone 5
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 10, 2015 3:53 PM CST
I've had them survive and do well at about 60 degrees on the unheated cement basement floor.
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
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Kabby
Feb 10, 2015 7:26 PM CST
Arlene I had read that dahlia tubers should go no longer than 3 yrs being divided. I have seen the tool that is needed to divide them too! I'm trying to take it slow with ordering plants of all kinds this spring, we'll see how that goes. Rolling my eyes.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Feb 10, 2015 8:13 PM CST
Here is a write up Frank did. Check out the link at the end to his flickr. Very informative.

I actually start my tubers in pots beginning of May. But I keep them outside under a glass table so they still get lots of sun but I can regulate the amount of water they get
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 10, 2015 8:50 PM CST
Kabby - I agree about "no longer than 3 years" before dividing: the sooner, the better. Some are so easy to divide you just won't have a problem while others are not quite so easy. Restraint is just not fun, Kabby! Neither is getting so many orders in a short time...pressure, pressure.

Jen - are my eyes failing me or did you forget to post the link?
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Feb 11, 2015 6:44 AM CST
Sorry, can't get the link to work on my phone. I will try later when I get to a real computer
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
Image
jvdubb
Feb 11, 2015 6:45 AM CST
Try this
http://garden.org/thread/view_post/503631/
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 11, 2015 7:54 AM CST
Thanks, Jennifer. Frank is certainly devoted and the photos were great. Well done, Frank!
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
Image
Kabby
Feb 11, 2015 8:00 AM CST
I'll check out the link when I get back home this afternoon.
Arlene I speed read and I read the above as "are my eyes falling out?" Must be the retina damage from the white dahlias. Hilarious!
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 11, 2015 8:21 AM CST
I just read my post again and it could look like "falling" instead of "failing"!

I did order a Citron de Cap but it's a very pale yellow, not white. The pink highlights go well with other pink dahlias.
Thumb of 2015-02-11/pirl/7f6686

Name: Ann
PA (Zone 6b)
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AnnofPA
Feb 11, 2015 1:37 PM CST
Thanks, Mary Stella & Jennifer for the storing info! Looks like dahlia's are more involved than I realized as a newcomer to dahlia's.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Feb 11, 2015 3:35 PM CST
Ann - if it all seems too overwhelming just dig them after frost, shake off the soil, turn them upside down for a few days, then store them one to a bag with the name of the dahlia on the bag. Store them between 40 and 50. Sprinkle a few drops of water each month. Most will survive.

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