Planting – Dahlia Tubers

I first published this dahlia collage in September of 2018. The passing months have not diminished my desire to plant several large dahlias in this year’s garden.

I purchased a few tubers in local garden centers, and decided to give them a head start for growing. I found several large pots, filled them with potting soil, and placed the tubers inside. Oh Happy Day! All of the tubers sprouted and grew. It’s time to plant them in the sunniest of garden beds.

Tall dahlias need stakes to stay upright in heavy rain. I read a great tip years ago that suggested putting a stake in place when you first plant the tubers. If you insert a stake after the dahlia tubers are planted and covered with soil you risk puncturing/tearing the tubers and killing the plant.

After I planted my dahlia and had my stake in place, I also took a precaution to protect my eyes. It’s so easy to forget about stakes and sticks jutting out of the ground when I weed or plant. I’ve had several close calls with my eyes, and have had stakes badly scrape my arms when weeding. To remind myself of their presence, and to add a bit of protection to the ragged ends, I place a seashell on the top of the stake.

I use seashells because I have boxes of them stored in the garage. All types of articles could be used to mark the top of the stakes, acorn tops, nuts, windmills, small cans painted in bright colors. The list is as endless as your imagination. Please do be careful with all types of stakes in the ground; I will always carry a scar on my leg from running into stake marking out a building site when I was a child. Sixteen stitches to close a wound leaves an impression that lasts a lifetime. Happy (and safe) gardening my friends!

Planting – Dahlia Tubers

Dinnerplate Dahlia Tubers
Dinnerplate Dahlia Tubers

I often grow common dahlias from seed. They reach a height of twenty-four inches and bloom in August when grown in this manner. Dahlias are great for late-season color in pots and borders.

The larger dahlias, often called the dinner-plate variety, are best grown from tubers. These are available for purchase in almost all of the larger warehouse stores and garden centers. The tubers are placed in the ground, and bloom late in the season. The best luck I ever had with the larger dahlias was the year I bought a pre-planted tuber from a local nursery. This year I decided to start a few dahlias in pots to get a jumpstart on their blooming time.

Dahlia tuber with sprout
Dahlia tuber with sprout

Before I purchase a package of dahlia tubers I check to see that at least a few sprouts are visible. If there is no sign of life, I don’t buy the package.

 Dahlia tubers with buds
Dahlia tubers with buds

When I open the package I check to see that all the tubers are firm. Each should have a few purple buds showing, and hopefully some green shoots.

Dahlia tubers potted up.
Dahlia tubers potted up.

I found six good tubers in my package. Instead of planting each in a separate six-inch pot, I planted all the tubers in one ten inch pot. When the tubers begin to thrive and grow steadily, I will replant each in a separate pot. When all danger of frost is gone I will plant them outdoors. Hopefully, the early start will mean early blooming. I will update their progress in a few weeks.