Problem-Solving during growing season forum: Tubers with multiple stalks

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Jun 20, 2020 9:32 PM CST
Rhode Island
Several of my tubers sprouted multiple stalks. A few have 3, and a few have 2. Should I leave them as is, and hope for a giant dahlia bush, or should I cut them and leave a single stalk? Won't the cut stalks just grow back?
Jun 20, 2020 10:07 PM CST
Name: Ted
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Conventional answer is reduce to one stalk. I like to leave multiple stalks on smaller blooming varieties. You get both more flowers and more tubers and several stalks can handle lots of small flowers without any problems. As flower size increases to BB size one has to decide whether the variety can handle two stalks. If you are a show grower you would probably want just one stalk. If you are a cut flower grower you would probably allow the two stalks. B size and larger, there is no doubt that if you want full sized flowers you would allow only one stalk.

They do not generally grow back if they are removed. Another related question is how far apart to plant dahlias in the garden. Smaller flowering varieties can be planted closer together and if your goal is the largest flower possible, you would plant your giant dahlias at least 24 inches apart. Steve Meggos plants them 36 inches apart and he is known for growing huge flowers.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
Jun 21, 2020 9:43 AM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
The number of tuber shoots you leave can also depend on if, when, and where you top your plants. Topping plants used to be a science with Show growers, I don't know if it still is. I grow only for cut-flower production and I never top my plants but I do allow as many shoots as possible from the tubers. If I have a lot of tuber clumps (of one variety) from the year before I will sometimes just 'halve' he clump with a shovel and plant the entire half clump. This will make 3-6 shoots from the tuber and give me more early blooms. I have seen great garden displays where the grower planted the entire clump from the previous year. These plants had several shoots coming from the clump and made a massive display of blooms. However, this method can make dividing the tubers the next year a challenge because there can be a huge, tangled mass of tubers.

So, there are several ways to go, depending on if you are growing for show, tuber sales, cut-flowers, or garden display.
[Last edited Jun 21, 2020 9:44 AM CST]
Quote | Post #1349318 (3)
Jun 21, 2020 10:16 AM CST
Name: Ted
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Planting a whole clump can be way of getting some tubers from poor tuber makers. For example I read years ago that a PNW person planted Camano Cloud and then dug it and grew out the the entire clump the next year. That way the very small, hard to store tubers were much larger and she could sell or trade these very valuable tubers. I would pay $20.00 for one of them. I know of a commercial grower who has a version of this as he removes only the top tubers from some difficult varieties and plants the undivided lower portion of the clump the next spring. I always plant some of the clumps that I overwintered whole and unless I am really short of tubers of that one, I plant it whole again. Of course, I need to dig a rather large hole. As I get older, and I encounter massive tuber clumps, they may not get dug if I have lots of other clumps.

Over the years, I have encountered some varieties that make such huge clumps the first year that I cannot dig them without incurring bodily harm. One was Bloomquist Candycorn. I struggled to extricate 4 or 5 mammoth size clumps out of the ground, place them into a crate, lift the heavy crate onto my small trailer, lift the crate again to place it into the garage. Then I get to lift it again to drag them out to be washed before dividing. and during washing I had to turn the massive clump numerous times to get off all the dirt and got sprayed in the face as I aimed the nozzle onto the solidified conglomeration of dirt on the bottom of the clump and it bounced off directly to my face. I lifted them again to bring them inside to the dividing station. And then finally, I am confronted with this massive tuber clump from hell to divide. I used my largest dividing tools and got about 5 or 6 over sized, fat tubers and then discovered that most of them did not have eyes. Suffice to say, I no longer grow Bloomquist Candycorn

Hollyhill Tempest is equally endowed with huge tuber clumps but since Margaret is in love with the one or two flowers(yes, almost no flowers) per 6 foot tall plant flowers, I am forced to grow it. At least most of the ginormous tubers have eyes.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
Jun 21, 2020 12:25 PM CST
Name: Sylvia
West Sacramento, CA Zone 9b
Nice timely question. I was pinching back shoots yesterday and found several tubers with more than one sprout. I've been debating whether to remove some of the excess but think I'll let them grow since I'm not growing for show or for size, but for number of blooms.

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