As we go in to February , it feels like I just finished dividing and tucking all the Dahlia tubers in for the winter, But its now to start pulling them all back out again!!
I have started slowly been gathering varieties that I want to Propagate and bringing them in to my office and I can feel spring is just around the corner!! A girl can dream right!!
Propagating Dahlia tubers or taking cutting was an intimidating task my first year but it surprisingly was a very easy thing to do and I wanted to take a minute to show you how I do it and what I used that was successful.
There are a lot of ways in how to take cuttings from Dahlia tubers and I tried them all but I have found what works for me and wanted to share with you all why I choose this method and some tips that I learned along the way!!
So in order to take cutting from dahlia tubers you have to wake them up so to speak . I tried a few different ways to do this and the easiest and space saving way was to use vermiculite and or soil in trays. I covered the bottom of a tray ( with no holes in it) with about an inch of vermiculite or soil and placed the tubers in the tray so that the bottom of the tuber was submerged in the vermiculite .
The tubers can be placed pretty close together and this method saved a lot of space on my shelves. I tried to use individual containers to put the tubers in to take cuttings, but they took up a great deal of room and didn’t seem necessary when I could stick a great deal of them in the trays.
You so need to keep the tubers moist but definitely not wet. When you first put your tubers in the trays to wake them up you want to water them in real good. After the initial watering I use a spray bottle from time to time and spray them a couple times a week. You just want to make sure they don’t dry out. I placed the trays under lights inside my office where it stays about 65 Degrees Celsius and the tubers start to form eyes very quickly as you can see in the photo above.
Below is the shelving I use to start my seeds on as well where I place my tubers that I am going to propagate and take cuttings off of .
Each one of those eyes is soon to begin to produce a sprout . If you are wanting to plant out your tuber as well after taking cuttings its important to not take more than 4 cuttings off of each tuber so it still has the strength itself to produce a healthy plant. Once the sprout had a few sets of leaves it is ready to cut and propagate to make a new plant.
Taking cuttings off of tubers is such a great way to multiply your stock of tubers. The cuttings after the season, do produce tubers themselves but not as many as if they were grown from tubers but that’s ok with me!! You essentially get free tubers with a small amount of work so its a win win in my book. Taking cuttings is a great way to get more bang for your buck and I am all about saving where I can!
So to take the cutting you want to use a sharp instrument like a razor blade or scalpel. Its important to only use the designated scalpel for that particular tuber so you don’t run the risk of spreading any disease if the tubers carry one.
You want to take the scalpel as close to the tuber itself when cutting of the sprout but still leave a small remnant of it attached to the tuber. This eye will sprout again beside where you took the cutting so don’t worry about it not sprouting again !
Once you cut the sprout off you want to remove the two small bottom sets of leaves. This will cause a small abrasion on the cutting where the rooting hormone can attach to and form roots. The only rooting hormone that I used because it worked great is Take root , Rooting hormone by Garden Safe.
Once the Cutting is dipped in rooting hormone you want to stick it in a medium that you can keep watered and will allow roots to form . A lot of people use vermiculite or soil for this but what I have found that is best for me is Rapid Rooters.
They are little growing cubes if you will that you place in a tray that allow you to lift hem up and watch the roots forming. You can get these on amazon but have found that my local growing supply store carries them as well in larger quantities.
These little natural plant starting cubes are what I ended up sticking with after trying many different mediums. When placing the cuttings in vermiculite or soil I had a hard time telling if roots were forming but with these I could just pop them out and look, allowing me to know when to bump them up in to bigger pots to then go in to the green house.
Just a little tip when putting your cuttings in to the Rapid rooter is take a pencil or what I used was the end of a small paint brush and make the hole in the rapid rooter a little bigger. This allows your cutting to go in smoothly and not take of the rooting hormone off as it goes down in .
To label each cutting I used a popsicle stick with the variety on it . Be sure to use a water proof pen when labeling all your plants . Take it from me I learned the hard way with that mistake !! Another cheap thing I saw someone doing was cutting up old mini blinds for cheap plant markers and I will be definitely trying that this year !!
So once your cuttings are tucked in to there little rooting cubes water them . The water will absorb in to the cubes and keep the cuttings wet. You don’t want them drenched so be sure not to soak them to much. After you water them and can see that the cube has been fully saturated and it soaked up the water its important to cover them . This keeps the moisture and heat in and encourages rooting. Place the tray under lights and wait for your little dahlia cuttings to for roots!! You can get great little trays and kits on amazon and I will be sure to link all those for you !!
As your cuttings start to form roots you can start transferring them in to larger containers with soil to start getting them established .
Once I bump my cutting up in to 4 inch pots I put them out in my unheated greenhouse on my DIY Heated germination boxes. I use a Big Foot mycorrhizae root inoculant granules in the soil as well to help with root formation. This Keeps the soil warm and encouraged root development. Be sure to not put them out to early as they can not survive the frost. I only move mine out to make more room in my office as I am limited for space as I am starting lots of other seeds as well. Well I hope you learned something new today and take the plunge and try your hand at propagating dahlias!!