Tuber Care for Fabulous Blooms

Tuber care and planting: 

Until you plant, keep your tubers at 50 to 70 degrees in their unsealed plastic bags with the slightly moist peat, out of sunlight. Some hang the bags from a rod or shelf.  Do not add water unless very dry, then you may spritz with a few drops of water to prevent shriveling. The tubers may start to grow roots or sprouts, this is fine.  If a sprout breaks off, don't be concerned, it will regrow.

Plant your tubers as soon as your soil is 60 degrees, on their sides, 4 inches deep. Add snail bait at this time (Sluggo or Sluggo Plus) even if you don't see snails or slugs. Soil should be moist but not waterlogged. Don't add fertilizer, or potting soil with additives, or herbicide or pesticide (other than Sluggo). Don't water until you see a pair of leaves emerge, 3 to 5 weeks later.

We can't guarantee tubers that have been potted up, put on heated benches, or used for cuttings, as this stresses the tuber. 

If your tuber did not emerge from soil 5 weeks after planting; please dig it up and inspect it.  If you can't see the problem (snail damage, rot, freezing, gophers, wire worms,etc) take a picture of the tuber and it's markings and send it to us. Even rotted tubers will have a "skin/shell" left. Don’t throw tuber away until you contact us!

Sometimes the tubers just don't grow. We understand this is frustrating. It is to us too; such is Mother Nature!  Kristine Albrecht, an internationally famous dahlia hybridizer, states that about 20% of her dahlia tubers do not grow into plants each year despite her decades of growing experience. Here's a list of some things that can go wrong:

New sprouted growth eaten by slugs, snails, rabbits, etc.

Tubers and roots eaten by gophers, voles, or wireworms (especially in new fields)

Tuber rotted due to water-logged soil and soil temperature below 60 degrees

Tubers dried out due to very dry soil and hot weather, or put under plant lights or in sun before planting

Tubers frozen in mailbox or soil

Diseased tubers (crown gall, leafy gall, viruses, bacterial and fungal diseases): Disease can be transmitted by the tuber or seeds, or it is already present in your soil, or it has come from the many other plants in your garden (besides dahlias) that carry these diseases. Only gall disease can be seen with the naked eye. For pictures of these diseases, please see the American Dahlia Society (ADS) website.

Viruses: The several viruses that affect dahlias (and many other common plants, like tomatoes) can only be confirmed by lab testing (see ADS website) which costs about $20 to $60 per plant.  Dahlia viruses have been around for many decades, according to researchers. When "healthy-appearing" samples from various national dahlia societies were tested recently, 87% were found to be infected by one or more viruses. Some distinctive leaf patterns suggest virus infection, but it is almost impossible to tell for sure, it could be weather patterns, too much or too little fertilizer, etc., etc. Viruses can have no affect on plant growth, or can severely stunt growth or even kill a plant, but these last are not likely. Some varieties are more affected than others.

What can you do about this?  Since viruses are spread by insects that bite an infected plant then bite your dahlia leaves,  you can spray Neem or another horticultural oil every 10 days if you wish to discourage bugs. Disinfect your cutting tools with alcohol or bleach solutions between plants. Some viruses are also spread by dahlia seeds and tubers that you have purchased. Remove unhealthy plants to your garbage can (don't compost).

We try to insure your success by waiting until your tuber eye is swelling or sprouting before it is sent to you (this is why we don't send orders earlier than April 1st).  Please contact us via email if you are having problems. We might be able to help. We want you to be successful and have a beautiful and abundant crop of flowers that just knocks your socks off!

We request a photo of any failed dahlia before replacements will be made. The photo needs to show our logo and other markings. Replacements of the same variety will be sent the following spring at no charge. NO CASH REFUNDS for non-growth of tuber.

If you have not received a reply to your email within a week, please check your junk mail, then try again sending us your phone # (we may have an incorrect email address for you).

Planting for sustainability: We want you to be happy with your purchase and enjoy the fabulous beauty of a healthy plant! We recommend looking at sustainable and organic dahlia growing sites online for cultivation information if you would prefer not to use chemicals on your plants (we hope so)!

A few important reminders:

  • Do not plant outside until the soil is 60 degrees or more.

  • Plant the tuber on it's side 4" deep in a sunny spot for best blooms.

  • Don’t plant in commercial bagged potting soils with fertilizer added (this can kill your tuber!)

  • Use organic slug bait when tubers are planted, don't wait to see slugs, they only come out at night.

  • Don’t water tuber until leaves appear.

  • Spray Neem every few weeks (available at the big box stores or online) if any disease or pests are seen, this is a natural oil from the Neem tree. It doesn't kill pests, but makes the leaves unpalatable. It helps deter aphids and thrips, common pests that can spread virus. No other pesticides or herbicides. Weed by hand if needed.

  • Stake tall varieties at planting time.