Dahlia Tuber Planting Information

What you will receive:

What to expect: Each order consists of one dahlia tuber. All tubers will have at least one viable eye that may or may not have begun to sprout upon arrival. Though an order is technically for one tuber, we may occasionally send 2 or more interconnected tubers. Tubers will be stamped with the variety name (less waste, YAY!).  There will be a little dirt on your tuber.  We find that they store better with dirt on them in that it buffers humidity and protects from both desiccation and mold.  We don't advise washing it off if you intend to store longer.

Please note that sometimes in transit, a sprout may be broken or knocked off, but that will not effect viability, production, or overall health.  It will re-sprout.   Please refer to our video to see exactly what you will be receiving.

What to do when you receive your package:

Please open up your package upon arrival to get some airflow to your tubers. Keep out of direct sunlight and store in a beneficial environment (don't desiccate it and don't grow mold on it) before you plant.  40-58 degree range with decent relative humidity is ideal.  Basements are perfect.  Check tubers occasionally to ensure they don't need more or less moisture.   Successful dahlia storage is a big part of growing dahlias every year, so use this time to develop your yearly strategy.  Plant according to your region.

When to plant:

Cooler climate growers can plant after Spring's last frost.  Southern growers should not plant that early.  We plant our dahlias in early June in the south. Heat and insects cause a lot of stress in southern dahlias and they fare MUCH better when planted later.  We can't stress the importance of this enough to southern growers if growing for profit.  Gardeners with a few plants...don't worry about it too much.  It's ideal to plant late, but if you don't want to deal with storage and don't mind some holes in your flowers, plant earlier if that's easier.

Do not plant during or right before extended periods of rain.  Too much ground water will rot your tubers if they haven't fully sprouted into plants yet.  

How to Plant:

Plant in full sun in well drained, fertilized soil, 12"-18" apart. Dig a hole that's about 5-6 inches deep. Set the tubers with the growing points, or “eyes,” facing up, and cover with soil. Do not plant too deep. Eyes should be just below ground level. Do not water deeply until dahlia begins to grow or risk of rot goes up. Tall, large-flowered cultivars will require support. We recommend pinching when the plants are 6 inches tall.

We are not responsible for dahlias once they have been planted in the ground. We ship out only the highest quality tubers and are not responsible for user error or acts of nature once dahlias have been planted. Please follow all planting instructions to best set yourself up for success.  We are not responsible for issues arising due to poor storage practice after orders have been received. 

Any issues with tubers must be brought to our attention within 48 hours of delivery and accompanied by photos, so we can assess if replacements or refunds are needed.

Pest control:  Late planting prevents thrips in the south, but we protect each bloom from larger pests with organza bags for most of autumn.  With these 2 cultural practices, we haven't sprayed our dahlias for pests in the last 6 years and they turn out beautiful.  If thrips are really bad for you, you can also add Stratiolaelaps scimitus  (formerly Hypoaspis miles) to your soil after planting. These are predatory mites. We do this once a year.

Harvesting your dahlias: 

Cut for your market.  3/4 open for florists, stores, and farmers markets.  Fully open for events. 

Overwintering:

In zones 8 and warmer, dahlias can technically be overwintered in the ground, but we strongly advise against it! Pest pressure is off the charts in southern dahlias that've been overwintered.  You should dig up dahlias after a frost, when the foliage has died back and store in a cool, dark, and dry place like a basement, then divide and plant the following year.

FAQ's

Can you explain more on how to store dahlia tubers before planting/after digging up?

It really isn't a one size fits all thing, since everyone's environmental conditions are different, it's more just a situation where you make sure it doesn't fall into extremes and you'll be fine.
We've always stored ours in our basement in plastic bulb crates, so they are completely open to the air.  The temp is roughly 55 degrees in there. We don't do anything more elaborate than that, though there are probably 20 different techniques you could find people doing on the internet.  We tried many in the past and didn't like the ones we did as they resulted in more rot.  We found our tubers fared better in our basement like i just described.  We don't pre-wash them either and feel the little layer of dust/dirt acts as a bit of a humidity buffer as well.
We don't use perlite, wood shavings, vermiculite, plastic baggies or anything extra.  We'll go down once a week and check it out to make sure conditions are good.  We'll also go down after a big rain and if the room is wet, we'll set a dehumidifier to 75% relative humidity and/or add some fans.
If it's a really really dry winter and we notice them start to shrivel at all, we might just put some water on the floor, or you could put in a humidifier.  Some folks put them in baggies with wood shavings and mist the inside of the bag, but poke holes in it so they don't rot.
As I said, It really isn't a one size fits all thing, since everyone's environmental conditions are different, it's more just a situation where you make sure it doesn't fall into extremes and you'll be fine.

 

I planted my dahlias in a pot on the patio in GA and they didn't flower much.  If I plant in June like you suggest, will they bloom this year?
Pots tend to heat up more than the earth, because the ratio of surface  area to volume is much higher, putting added stress on an already heat stressed plant. Being on the patio only compounds that heat effect even worse. They are kinda in a little oven, on a bigger oven.  Our varieties can handle GA heat in a garden, but I'm not surprised they didn't produce when exposed to 2 more layers of heat.  If you have any option to get them in the ground and away from radiant concrete heat or radiant heat from walls, you'll have greater success.
I don't recommend it, but If pots are your only option, you'd want to make sure it's a very big pot/planter and that the tubers are not placed  anywhere near the edge.  If the pots are dark in color, the heat effect only  gets worse.

Spring planted dahlias in GA get huge fast and then soak up heat stress and pest pressure for months.  Come Fall when they are supposed to produce, they are too sick and tired to do much.  

Planting late sidesteps a lot of that stress.  They will be smaller, but they will be healthy and productive. Every garden/farm has its own unique attributes, so I can't tell you exactly what'll work best for you, but take all that info I just gave you and use it to create your strategy and see what works.  Maybe try two different approaches this year and see what works best. That way you have even more information for your location to grow more successfully next year.

 

My tubers arrived damaged/rotted. What do I do?

Please email 3porchfarm@gmail.com no more than 48 hours after your tubers arrive. Please give a detailed description of the condition and provide photos of your order. Once we have that information, we can assess the situation from there and replace or refund tubers that are nonviable.

I planted my tubers and nothing came up. Can I get a refund?

No, we are not responsible for dahlias that were received in good condition, but subsequently failed due to improper storage, improper planting/watering/growing practices, or inclement weather. We guarantee our tubers from our farm to your door and have no control of what happens after that. We ship out only the highest quality tubers that are fully viable, so all claims of damaged or poor quality tubers must be filed within 48 hours of receipt and accompanied by photos. Please follow our instructions included to best set yourself up for success!

Can I compost the packaging my tubers came in?

Yes! We proudly use all compostable packaging for our shipped goods.

I've grown dahlias before and some of the tubers rotted.  How do I prevent this?

It is critical to have well drained soil and to plant during periods where no extensive rain is expected.  Do not use black plastic mulch of any kind on your dahlia beds in the south as it heats up the soil and when combined with moisture creates prime conditions for rot.  Do not plant your tubers too deep. Do not plant your tubers with the eyes facing downwards.  Your odds of success increase if you let your tubers sprout before planting.

What do you use for pest control?

Dahlias were our most pest ridden crop for half a decade.  We now have close to zero pest issues with them through 2 main cultural practices. 

1) we plant late subjecting plants to less heat stress. This allows our plants natural defenses to be stronger. This timing also avoids giving a food source and breeding ground to japanese beetles, tarnished plant bugs, and thrips.  By the time our flowers are blooming, these pests are either gone, or don't have ideal conditions to build up their populations.  We never spray dahlias for pests anymore...at all.

2) We use organza bags on our blooms for grasshoppers and whatever else might want a snack.  We use 6"x9" for our regular blooms and 8"x12" for the larger ones.  These won't work on thrips, which reinforces our late planting.

3) Likely not as necessary, but as insurance, we sprinkle stratiolaelaps mites in the soil after planting.  These mites eat thrip larvae.  You can find these mights through a beneficial insect provider.  Express shipping is costly, so find one closest to you.  We use IPM Labs in NY.