Dahlias–Wintering Over

http://www.turning-earth.co.uk/dahlia_llandaff.htm

 

HOW TO OVER WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS

With milder winters becoming ever more common, there are now two schools of thought when it comes to over-wintering Dahlia tubers. The traditional method is to lift them and then store in a cool dry, frost free position, while the second and slightly more risky way is to leave them where they are but with the addition of extra insulation.

LIFTING AND STORING DAHLIA TUBERS

The practice of removing Dahlia tubers from the ground for over-wintering goes back to at least a couple of hundred years so you know that it is definitely going to work. The time to do this is always going to be dependent on theweather so come the autumn you will need to keep a close eye on your plants.

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As soon as the first good frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia will blacken and the plant will naturally begin to move into its dormancy stage. However you will want to leave it a week or so before furtherpreparation commences so that the plant can adjust to the seasonal change and absorb nutrients and carbohydrates from the stems back into the tubers.
Cut the stems to about 6 inches from the ground and then using a fork carefully lift the dahlia so that when removed from the soil the tubers remains intact. You will probably need to circle the root system with the fork first to help loosen the soil before lifting. About 1ft from the stem should be suffice.
Once lifted, gently place the tuber clump onto the ground, then carefully remove as much soil as you can without breaking or cracking the ‘necks’ of the individual tubers. Unfortunately, a tuber with a cracked or broken neck will tend to rot and will not produce new growth next season.
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Remove any diseased or damaged tubers and trim off any fibrous roots to reduce the incidence of fungal infections, then wash the rest of the soil off with water and allow to dry – upside down – for a couple of days in a cool, frost-free environment.
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Prepare a container such as a seed tray or shallow box with a covering of horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite at the bottom. Now place the tubers into the containers and cover them with slightly moistened horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite. The container can now be placed into storage in a frost-free position such as a garage or basement or anywhere that has an even winter temperature of around that 4 – 7 Degrees Celsius.
During this storage time you should be examining the tubers at least once a month, throwing away any which are showing signs of rotting. If the tubers appear to be drying out, then sprinkle the covering medium with a small amount of water. If they to be appear too wet then remove them from their container and allow to dry off on some old newspaper for a couple of days before placing back into storage.
Come the following spring – and just before the growing season – divide the tuberous roots into sections using a sharp blade making sure that each section has at least one prominent bud. Dust each cut section with a fungicidal powder and allow them to dry for a couple of days. That way the cut surfaces have a chance to callous over before planting.
These new root sections can be potted on in John Innes No.1 but unlike most other plants it is important NOT towater them in. Label them and place them back into a frost-free area moving them into a bright position. Do not move into direct sunlight until the foliage has a chance to harden off.

OVER-WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS IN THE GROUND

Recent trials have shown that it isn’t always necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers so long as the ground is suitably prepared before planting. However, wet and freezing winters may still kill Dahlia tubers when they left in the ground, so it can still be worth lifting a few plants for storage – just to be on the safe side.

The key to successfully over-winter Dahlia tubers in the ground is to make sure that they were planted into a free draining soil in the first place as this will reduce the tubers becoming waterlogged during this risky part of the year. Also, it is advisable to plant them deeper in the soil than would normally be the practice – about 8 inches or so deep is fine.
The tubers will require additional protection to avoid them from being damaged by hard ground frosts. This can be achieved by employing by simple mulch such as straw, peat or even more soil. However using a traditional ‘Clamp’ will be the most effective.
HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL CLAMP
I know that these are not Dahlia tubers but it is a traditional clamp

Take some straw and cover over where the Dahlia tubers are under ground. Now position more straw – in a vertical fashion – so that it forms a raised mound above the tubers. When looking at it, the lengths of straw should now be sloping away from the top of the mound to the bottom of it so that it draws any water away from the centre of the mound.

Next the straw mound is ‘earthed –up’ which is a bit like making a sand castleon the beach. You dig a moat around the outside and you throw the excavated soil on top of the straw mound. When you get to the top of the mound you will need to leave a little straw chimney. This allows the mound to ‘breath’ which helps to stop fungal rots from progressing inside. The lastthing to do is to smooth over the soil sides so that if it does rain the waterwill run off down the sides rather than enter into the mound itself.
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The ‘clamp’ can be removed once the threat of frost is over.
A WORD OF WARNING
Slugs are very partial to the taste of fresh Dahlia growth and so it is important to remember to put down something to keep them well away. If you forget, all of your hard work would have been wasted and all you will have to show is a healthy batch of new slugs ready to damage other susceptible plants as they grow through.
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The Bishop

Flowers that are useful for mass planting.

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ is a branching, tuberous tender perennial cultivar with dark eggplant-colored, almost black, foliage. This produces a stunning contrast with its scarlet flowers.

220px-DahliaLlandaff

large llandaff llandaff-early in year

The plant was named to honour Pritchard Hughes, Bishop of Llandaff, in 1924 and won the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1928. The plant is about 1 m tall and flowers from June until September. As with all dahlias, frost blackens its foliage, and its tubers need to be overwintered in a dry, frost-free place.
A seed strain has been produced from this plant called ‘Bishops Children’, they retain the dark foliage color but produce a mix of flower colors and flower shapes from single to semi-double flowers in different sizes.
Plant Profile:- Height:1.1m (3&1/2ft) Spread: 45cm (18in) site: Full Sun Soil: Fertile, free-draining Hardiness: Half hardy
Also comes in rich reds & purples, yellows & oranges, as well as paler shades

Wiki Categories:

Propagation

How to propagate it

SPRING

Clumps of dahlia tubers can be divided in the spring before they are re-planted. Use a clean, sharp knife and slice the tubers into sections, making sure that each section has a healthy dormant bud (known as an ‘eye’) on it. Dust all the cut surfaces with a fungicide to help prevent infection. Plant the sections immediately.

LATE WINTER

To get even more new plants, you can take basal stem cuttings from dahlias in late winter. To do this you need to get the dahlia tubers growing earlier in the season, so plant them in potting compost, leaving the tops of the tubers exposed, and keep them moist in light shade at at least 12˚C. They should then start growing.

When the new shoots are around 10cm tall, use a clean, sharp knife and cut each stem out, taking a small chip of the tuber with it. Remove any leaves from the lower part of the stem and then pot it up in free draining compost (eg cutting compost) and keep it humid and at about 19˚C. Gradually reduce the humidity as the cuttings start to grow, pot them on, and harden them off before planting out after all chances of frost have passed.

SPRING

You can also take softwood cuttings from dahlias in the spring. Encourage early growth by potting the tuber over winter (keeping it moist but frost free) and then moving it into a warmer spot (minimum 10˚C) in early spring to stimulate early growth. Then take softwood cuttings as normal.

SEEDS–Bishops Children

Flowers are varied colours. Heirloom Flower - Dahlia 'Bishop's Children

Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children (examples)

(Dahlia sp.)

A seed grown descendant of Bishop of Llandaff Dahlia. The plants have purple foliage and the flowers range from orange, red and pink.

A very showy plant. Ht: 3’ tall. (lift tubers in fall)–even when grown from seed.

  • Package Qty: 25 seeds
  • Price: $3.00

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Pollinated Flower Seeds, Bishop’s Children, 50 Seed Packet

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  • Although dahlias were discovered in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, not until 1872 was a box of tubers sent to Europe
  • Bishop’s Children is a seed-grown descendant of Bishop of Llandaff dahlia, introduced in 1927
  • Striking mix of rich colors, impressive dark foliage
  • Half-hardy annual, 28-36-inch tall
  • Bishop?s Children is a seed-grown descendant of Bishop of Llandaff dahlia, introduced in 1927

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General source of cheap seeds: BY THE POUND.

http://www.flowersoul.com/flowerseeds.html

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