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Dahlia Care

Storing Your Tubers 

The best temperature range for long-term tuber storage is 40-50℉.  DO NOT ALLOW THE TUBERS TO FREEZE, or they will rot.  Tubers may be stored at slightly higher temperatures, particularly when it is nearly time to plant; the warmer temps will encourage the tubers to “wake up.”  

There are several common tuber storage methods, including storing them in vermiculite or peet moss, or wrapped in plastic wrap.  When you order from us, your tubers will arrive wrapped in plastic, and should be kept that way until it is time to plant.  If you need to re-wrap your tubers, several tubers may be wrapped together, but make sure no tuber is touching another (plastic wrap must separate all tubers). 

If you are storing tubers over the winter, check them periodically for rot.  If you notice a little bit of mold, do not despair.  As long as the tuber remains firm (you can give it a gentle squeeze), it should be fine.  Mold can be treated with a little white vinegar (unlike bleach, vinegar will penetrate the skin of the tuber to reach mold spores below the surface). After treating a tuber with vinegar, let it dry out before re-wrapping it.  

Tubers may start to sprout while in storage, and this is fine. However, if your tubers are sprouting a long time before planting, you may want to move them to a cooler location so the sprouts don’t get too long and leggy.  At planting time, trim any sprout that’s longer than 2 inches back to ~¼ inch or so. Don’t worry if a sprout breaks off; the tuber will re-sprout.

Do not store wrapped tubers in an airtight container, as they need some exchange of air. A loosely closed bag or box is fine.


Planting Your Tubers

Planting Your Tubers

Exactly when you should plant your tubers depends on where you live and the climate conditions in that particular year.  Tubers may be planted outside 2-3 weeks before the last frost, as it will take several weeks for sprouts to emerge.  They may also be started in pots and transplanted to the garden later.  If you are transplanting, you should wait to do so until all danger of frost has passed, and the ground is starting to warm up. 

Plant tubers horizontally, 4-5 inches below the surface, with the neck and eye of the tuber placed closest to where you will stake the plant (ideally just a couple inches from the stake).  We recommend placing your stakes before planting, to ensure that you don’t damage the tuber when you put the stake in. 


Plant your tuber in slightly moist soil, or water it once just after planting, but then don’t water it again until a sprout emerges.  Overwatering tubers before they have sprouted or developed roots will cause them to rot.  Rain is fine, as long as the tuber is planted in well-draining soil.  Once the sprout has emerged and the plant is actively growing, water deeply once per week, or as needed depending on your local conditions (less if you are getting regular rain and more if you have heat).  

Space dahlias about 2 feet apart (can be anywhere from 18-36 inches; give more space for larger dinner plate varieties) in a location where they will be in full sun, if possible.


The Growing Season

Caring for Your Dahlias

As mentioned above, dahlias should be staked to support the tender stems and heavy blooms.  Place your stakes before planting to avoid damaging your tubers, and for easiest access.  Once the plant is growing, tie it gently but securely to the stake every foot or so.  

When your plant is 8-12 inches tall, consider “pinching” it.  To pinch your dahlia, count up four levels of leaves, and cut the dahlia with clippers or pinch it with your fingers just above the fourth level.  Though this may feel counter-intuitive, it will encourage more vigorous, lateral growth, ultimately giving you more blooms.

The best time to cut blooms is early in the morning (other times are ok if the temperatures are cool), when the bloom is no more than 3/4 open.  As with pinching, cutting your blooms will encourage more growth and more flowers!   This is also the reason to "dead-head" blooms that have gone by: if flowers are left on the plant, they will start to go to seed.  Seeds (as well as buds and blossoms) take a significant amount of nutrients and energy to produce.  When a plant is putting much of its nutrition and energy into making seeds, there is less left over for new buds and blooms or for tuber production.  To maximize the health of your dahlia plants, and produce the most blooms and best tubers, cut and deadhead your flowers regularly.    


 208 Mechanic Street

Camden, Maine 04843

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