Plants vs Tubers
The Dahlia plants offered in this catalog are actually cuttings taken from sprouted tubers. The cutting is then rooted in oasis growing medium under grow lights until roots form. You will notice a full root system and in many instances the first indication of tubers beginning to form. A cutting will produce a full tuber system just as a plant grown from a spring planted tuber itself.
When the plants arrive they will need to be transplanted into a well drained sterile soil mixture and placed on a windowsill or place of lighting for best results. The soil should be kept moist so that the root system will spread. We prefer four inch pots so that the root system has a chance to spread to the edges of the pot prior to planting in the garden. Your young plants can also be left in the black plastic sleeve for a couple of days as long as they get adequate water if you have no time to transplant them. Plants should not be placed directly into the garden as they will need to be “hardened” off. This can be done by taking the pots or sleeves outside for a small amount of time each day increasing the time each day. This will acclimatize the plants to the environment in which they will be growing. The plants should be planted in the garden on a cool or overcast day after all danger of frost has passed and not allowed to dry out for the first few days. By following these simple instructions you will greatly enhance the success of your new plants.
Plants provide the Dahlia enthusiast with the opportunity to get a head start on the growing season as they can be grown to a decent size before transferring out to the garden site. The average tuber takes approximately two to three weeks before waking up and breaking ground. Cuttings are ideal for those in colder regions and those with excessive spring rain storms. Many times a tuber will not survive if the soil does not drain well or the soil is too cold when initially planted out but a cutting with an established root system will be able to absorb some excess water and endure cooler soil temperatures when placed in the garden. Obviously anything can rot in too harsh of a growing environment particularly excessive moisture.
While providing an “instant gratification” of your investment, cuttings do require more care and attention initially. When digging tubers started from cuttings we would recommend the removal of the oasis material from the tuber mass prior to storage as there is a tendency for this material to hold moisture and start the process of crown rot.
Approximately 25% of the cutting that we make during a spring season will spend their entire life confined within a pot. This is known as a pot root and will be used the following season for cutting production allowing for rapid build up of stocks that are in short supply. But propagation is closely monitored to retain the vitality of the stock and overproduction is avoided at all cost even if we have to make it unavailable for the remainder of the season. We are sorry if this rare instance happens to you but retaining and selling the highest quality product is our top priority.
We have found that all dahlias do not respond the same when taken from a cutting. Some varieties will produce better blooms from cuttings than they will from a tuber while others are just the opposite. Through trial and error we have decided which ones we will offer in which forms.
We prefer to grow most of our dahlias from cuttings due to our growing season. We are able to plant later, top earlier and still have a strong growing plant & root system when the heat of the summer takes hold of the south. However there are a few varieties that we only grow and supply in tuber form.
Try a few plants for this season and see if your results might be better than with your tubers. You might be surprised.