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What is the best way to prepare tubers for the garden?


I usually wait till Mothers day to start planting our tubers directly into the garden but some dahlia growers like to get started earlier. So what can you do now, or soon to prepare tubers for planting?

First, plan to come to the Spring Tuber Sale because there will be experts on hand to answer your question. Most years it is on a Saturday in April, held in Bachman’s Garden Center, Heritage room, 6010 Lyndale Ave, South, Minneapolis. In 2020 it was online due to Covid-10 pandemic.

You can start tubers for cuttings. Chuck is writing a post (it should appear here soon) about his experience doing this and he already has some sprouts. I have not attempted this myself but can refer you to the Dahlia Guy post

Place a tuber in potting soil with the “eye” out of the dirt. Keep the soil moist enough to keep the tubers from drying out. And wait until the eyes begin to grow a dahlia plant. Then take your cuttings and start in a 4 inch pot or tray.

It is a bit too early, but soon you could start your tubers in trays. This is attractive because you only plant them in the garden after they have healthy starts, several inches tall. So you don’t have to fret about tubers that fail in the garden. If you plant them now, they may be past their prime by the time of the big show (State fair in Minneapolis) in late August, so I would hold off a little longer.

A similar idea that I like, but haven’t tried, comes from a youtube video, “How Geoff and Heather grow dahlias” (England). They keep the whole ball together over winter (in compost) then in March move them in a tray with a little compost and moisture to get them started. Only after they have multiple starts do they divide them and put them into separate pots.

Please share your comments below with your experiences and advice.

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