Dahlia

(Dahlia sp.) Native to the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala, dahlia was considered a useful edible plant for its large, edible tubers in the ancient Americas. Bedding type dahlias are grown from seed and are typically short. Unlike tuber-grown dahlias, they are less than 1.5 feet tall and grown as annuals from seed. Dahlias are octoploids, which means they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes; this is four times the number of chromosome pairs that most plants have. This results in a wide range of genetic expression that includes many colors and forms. Dahlias produce a large storage piece called a tuber at the base of the plant (it is not the roots). When tubers arrive in the mail, they will be in a semi-dormant stage or in the phase of "waking up" from the winter. Each tuber should be comprised of a "toe," or storage piece, and at least one "eye," which is a growth bud much like a potato. In winter this eye will recess and become nearly invisible, but the buds will swell as the tubers break dormancy. Since tubers vary in size, dig a hole deep enough to keep the tuber covered with buds pointed upward just below the soil line. Space plants 18-24 inches apart. Plants prefer rich, well-drained soil and full sun. They grow best when staked, to avoid flopping over. Keep plants deadheaded to encourage more blooms. Dig tubers after a light frost or temperatures have dropped in the fall, but be sure not to let the plants get exposed to a hard freeze as this will damage or kill the tubers. Lift the tubers with a potato fork and gently knock the dirt off or rinse with water. Do not store tubers right away; you must cure them first by placing them in a warm, dry place with bright indirect sunlight for at least two days. Then store them in a cool, dark, dry place (most people use a basement) between layers of newspaper, sawdust, or coconut coir. The tubers should not get colder than 32 F, as freeze causes rotting. Check on your tubers over the winter to be sure they aren't drying out. They can be rehydrated if they start to parch and wrinkle. Divide tubers in spring and replant. Each tuber needs an "eye" or bud in order to grow; the eyes are located at the crown of the plant.

PLEASE NOTE: We can only ship tubers within the U.S.

 

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