This is definitely a dahlia learning year for me. Even though I have grown dahlias for years, I have learned more since January than I have since put my first tuber in the ground.
Tubers The first thing I learned was that I can overwinter tubers. I knew it was possible, but to-date I've been pretty lazy and just tried to get them to overwinter in the ground. They almost never did because of our soggy soil. So, last fall I dug them up and separated them in the greenhouse, and left them there.
By the time spring arrived, they looked kind of shriveled and I assumed they were all dead. I threw them all in a bucket to take to the compost. Luckily, a friend stopped by about then to show me how to separate tubers and noted that all the tubers in my compost bucket looked ready to sprout.
After she taught me to separate them, it turned out what I thought were zero dahlias tubers was more like 50 healthy tubers. However, by now they were a jumbled mess. I named all these dahlias "Dahlia Mysteriosis". It sounded better than "No Idea".
Now, I'm patiently waiting for dozens of dahlia's to pop. I have had about 5 or 6 bloom and none of them turned out to be what I expected. Every day I run out to see what's going to open. It's like Christmas in July!
I never really even considered Dahlia seeds, but this year I found out that they are definitely "a thing". Why hadn't anyone told me about this? Turns out that although dahlias create seeds, we don't use them much because each seedling will grow into a new type of dahlia and no two alike. In short, you get about 1,000 "Dahlia Mysteriosis" from every plant.
I planted tons of seeds. I had some seedling issues, so they didn't all thrive, but enough did that I'm also waiting for them to get big enough to bloom.
I've pinched a lot in the spring, which means when a plant gets to be about a foot tall, you cut back the main stem to a set of leaves, creating a dahlia that puts on more blooms and longer stems. (For more information just click here.)
Turns out you can plant what you snipped off. Just pop it into the ground and it will create a new plant. In my case, more "Dahlia Mysteriosis".
It's been a year of learning. But on the bright side, it's now a summer of excitement as I wait to see what beauty awaits.
Until next time, have fun in the garden!