Starting the Dahlia Season forum: Starting Tubers & Cuttings 2021

 
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ImageCCvacation
Dec 30, 2020 11:23 PM CST
Name: CC
PA
Nothing beats having everything safety tucked away in storage for the winter... well, except the UNBRIDLED JOY of taking that first cutting and starting the dahlia season all over again!

Please share your experiences, from the frustrations to the excitement, of this renewing time of regrowth.

Questions are welcome, but it is strongly recommended that everyone read the articles "Beginners Guide to Dahlia Cuttings" located here https:/cubits.org/Dahlias/articles/view/1597/ and "The Advanced Grower's Guide to Leaf Cuttings" located here https:/cubits.org/Dahlias/articles/view/1661/.

Last year's thread:
https:/cubits.org/Dahlias/thread/view/89788/
CC
ImagePNWGal
Jan 4, 2021 7:33 PM CST
Name: Linda
Portland OR, zone 8b
My New Year's Resolutions for 2021 cuttings:

1) Don't start the tubers/pot roots too early. I am always tempted to get questionable keepers and ones I want lots of cutting from started in late-February, early-March. But then I get cuttings that are mature enough to go into the (unheated) greenhouse before it is warm enough out there for them. They get too tall for the light racks and end up languishing in a windowsill with not enough light. Cuttings taken in April do the best for me, followed by those taken in May, and both outgrow the earlier ones. Mid-March is plenty early to start the tubers for my conditions.

2) Don't put the lights too close to the tubers. Since I started using the LED lights, which don't get hot like the fluorescent lights did, I am inclined to move the lights down to a couple inches above the sprouts. But then I get stocky sprouts which are hard to cut and don't have enough stem length to stick into the rooting pots. I need to make them stretch more, so they look like the ones in the article.
ImageIslander
Jan 5, 2021 10:46 AM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
I try to hold off until mid March but it is hard!

Back in the "old days" when I would go to the Northwest Garden Show in Seattle every year with my Garden Pal, I would buy tubers and then pot them up as I found they lasted better that way for me. That was before I learned to take cuttings, and I would lug those plants in their pots outside and then in again at nights for weeks.
Salish Dahlias
Imageteddahlia
Feb 10, 2021 12:19 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I did a short presentation on cuttings on Zoom for our dahlia club meeting last night. I used some of the pictures from cubits and others. Here is a link to the pictures.
http://portlanddahlia.com/DahliaCulture/ZoomCuttingsPage.htm...
Too many flowers, not enough time!
ImageAndreaB
Feb 10, 2021 6:27 PM CST
Name: Andrea
SE Michigan
I haven’t ventured into the cutting world yet, but I have been curious about it.
I’ve always wondered about the tips you pinch out of a young plant. If I understand you correctly, it wouldn’t be a viable cutting because it’s not being cut 1/16” above the tuber, correct?
ImageIslander
Feb 10, 2021 7:39 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
I root anything and everything. I just love to make them grow and hate to waste a piece of plant. Cutting just above the tuber is only one of the ways that plants propagate. IT is the most efficient for turning tubers into more plants but it is not the only way. I have had plants accidently broken off in the garden by my ducks, and pulled off a few leaves and stuck the broken part in the damp soil, fastened it to a stake and had it root. As long as you have stem and leaf nodes give it a try, you have nothingn to loose.
Salish Dahlias
ImageAndreaB
Feb 10, 2021 8:08 PM CST
Name: Andrea
SE Michigan
Islander wrote:I root anything and everything. I just love to make them grow and hate to waste a piece of plant. Cutting just above the tuber is only one of the ways that plants propagate. IT is the most efficient for turning tubers into more plants but it is not the only way. I have had plants accidently broken off in the garden by my ducks, and pulled off a few leaves and stuck the broken part in the damp soil, fastened it to a stake and had it root. As long as you have stem and leaf nodes give it a try, you have nothingn to loose.


The snipped tips always seem so healthy. I think I might have to experiment this year!
Imageteddahlia
Feb 10, 2021 8:11 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
It is not that you cannot root pinching stems, but that you are doing it so late in the season that there is not enough time to root them and grow them to planting size so that they will be able to bloom before frost. And the top central bud is not used for rooting as it has no leaf node where the roots come from. You would need to cut off the stock lower than normal to get a node. One grower who grows thousands of cuttings starts his tubers in 4 inch pots indoors under lights in late February and takes cuttings from the tuber and then after taking a few , lets the sprout grow to about 6 inches tall and plants the tuber in the ground with the long sprout.. He gives away the rooted cuttings. Many people like me do the opposite and I plant the rooted cuttings in my garden and quite often leave the tuber in the 4 inch pot and grow it as a "pot" tuber and use it for cuttings again the next year. However, you do it, you get lots of extra plants from a tuber.
Too many flowers, not enough time!
ImageIslander
Feb 25, 2021 10:01 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
potting soils...
I am having a hard time finding good potting soil here. For years I used Black Magic. Then I had a few bags that were pretty awful. I've had bags that were blackand smelled like cow poop, and grew algae on the surface as the leaves turned yellow in the pot. I bought one here in Oregon and it hatched out slug eggs into little slugs that were devouring my seedlings in my greenhouse. When I went to buy the next bag at the local nursery They told me they were switching to a locally (Made in Longview , WA which is just up the road about 20 minutes.) Potting soil that was just as good and cost a lot less. Well, several bags of it were OK but rather high in sawdust. This last bag I got waa soaking wet and smelled so strongly of sulfer by the time I got to the bottom of the bag I couldn't stand working with it in my little greenhouse in the garage. I never had potting soil that smelled of sulfer before!

I am not just potting up tubers though I have done a few. I am also starting perennial and annual flower seeds for my cut flower beds. I have quite a few pots of sweet peas started now.

The top of this seemed OK but the bottom 1/4 of it ..maybe I just need to drain off the liquid?
Salish Dahlias
Imageteddahlia
Feb 25, 2021 10:15 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Margaret likes Black Gold the best. The cheaper mix from our local farm store, Wilco is not quite as dark in color and I like it fine but she wants Black Gold. Miracle Gro is OK but too expensive. The Sunshine mixes that come it bales like #3 or #4 are way too expensive and too light. Our local purveyor of nursery products Jeff Vier , likes to sell us a product called SB 40 and it is a different version of Black Gold from the same company and it is not as dark. Margaret does not like it.
Too many flowers, not enough time!
SteveM
Feb 25, 2021 11:39 PM CST
Name: Steve
San Diego
Commercial cut flower grower
For seed starting I like a peat-based, soilless mix. I've always had good luck with PRO-MIX products but am not too crazy about hauling a compressed 3.8 cu. ft. bag around, so thought I'd try a few of these smaller bags that i found at Walmart. They are pricey but I just need a few Cu. ft. for my tomato seed starts and when I ordered 3 bags the shipping was free. I don't have any feedback to offer yet, but I like working with it for starting seeds. https://www.walmart.com/ip/PRO-MIX-Premium-Moisture-Potting-...

I am lucky, a bulk scale, mulch, potting soil, etc. company is located a few miles from me so I use their planter mix for all of my potting up, tuber starting, and container growing. It is sometimes a little high in nitrogen and a little heavy, so I add perlite and it works well. Finding a good mix has been a real challenge.
Imageteddahlia
Feb 26, 2021 9:38 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
"Finding a good mix has been a real challenge."

We used to order 10 or 12 cubic yards(12 if we wanted a custom mix) of commercial potting mix delivered to our property. They would no longer deliver so we went to buying bags of mix AND re-cycling our used potting mix. Actually, it is more convenient to have the 2 cubic foot bags as compared to putting the bulk mix into containers from the pile 150 feet away from where. we need it. The cost of the bulk mix is about 33% less and it did not have any fertilizer in it unless you did a custom order. The people selling the bags put about $.50 worth of fertilizer in there(a total guess based on only speculation).
Too many flowers, not enough time!
ImageIslander
Feb 26, 2021 11:20 AM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
We have had truck loads of garden soil delivered but I would not have a load of potting mix delivered until I find the right one. I probably don't need that quantity either. Maybe we will look for something up in Hillsboro next time we go that way to Costco. I want a store with rapid turn over of their products so we don't get some mildewed mess left from last year. Mr Islander did pick up a couple of bags a in town here last night so we will see if any of them are more passible.

And yuck, my hnds still smell of the sulfer in what I was using yesterday.
Salish Dahlias
ImageIslander
Feb 26, 2021 2:36 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
My husband brought home a bag of the Black Gold organic soil for me yesterday and it is so much nicer I could just hug it! It has a sweet earthern smell, no splintery feel to my hands, and is a joy to work with! If I could consistantly get it this nice I would be very happy! I pulled out my Salish tubers today to check over and pot up some for cuttings.
Salish Dahlias
Imageteddahlia
Feb 26, 2021 3:08 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Black Gold organic soil is one I tried when there was a broken bag for a good price. Better but very expensive. Teresa Bergman likes it too.
Too many flowers, not enough time!
ImageCosey
Mar 1, 2021 7:54 PM CST
Name: LeeAnn
Zone 6b, Pennsylvania
For potting soil I use Pro-Mix BX at the recommendation of a local greenhouse who starts thousands of plants. She's tried it all and prefers this mix. I've only ever used this and never had an issue. I would recommend never to let it completely dry out. It doesn't seem to hold consistent moisture if you start with bone dry mix.

I was very happy to find this lost dahlia clump today. I thought I lost it since it wasn't noted in my hand written notes or excel file. But 6 healthy tubers of HH Black Cherry have been recovered and are conditioning to life on the propagation table!

Thumb of 2021-03-02/Cosey/cee908
ImageIslander
Mar 1, 2021 9:03 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
Nice clump of Black Cherry!
Salish Dahlias
ImageIslander
Mar 3, 2021 7:47 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
An Ode to Joy! When you put away tubers that don't look prime because, well, that was most of your crop, and they survive the winter and and still look viable when you pull them out to check on them...and your memory brings up a picture in your mind of the plant in full bloom the year before. And just maybe you can grow them better this year with all that you have learned in the meantime....
Salish Dahlias
Imageteddahlia
Mar 3, 2021 8:39 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Our 2020 seedling tubers are in excellent shape. I have gone though all of them except for about 10 that are in another container. I am planning on taking cuttings from 36 of the seedlings and will be putting the tubers I pulled into pots very soon. Some have so many tubers, I do not need to take cuttings. I found one really nice seedling that had been marked as missing. It is a "Margaret Likes" and she will be happy. I need to improve our picture taking of the seedlings. I seems it is easy to wander though the seedlings snapping pictures but very hard to get the seedling number associated with the pictures. I love it when there are some really nice tubers and it is one of the good ones. 2071 is one that I really like, a "Ted Likes" as it is a 6 footer and has brightly colored 7 inch diameter flowers
Thumb of 2021-03-04/teddahlia/7ba2c3
Too many flowers, not enough time!
ImagePaige
Mar 4, 2021 11:00 PM CST
Name: Paige L
Snohomish
Oh, that’s a beauty Ted😊 I love the light color in the center and on the tips.

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