Dahlia farming is always about more tubers and more flowers. Healthy tubers and big, strong stemmed flowers. More is more. The saying less is more was not written by a flower farmer. It is August third and I am taking more cuttings for yes, more Dahlias.
There is a storm barreling up the East Coast and we have flood warnings for the next twenty-four hours. I am taking cuttings in case I lose a few, but really any excuse for more Dahlias is a reasonable excuse. Frost is still months away so they can easily get a head start now.
Most big nurseries take their cuttings in January and February and have big healthy plants for sale by May and June. I on the other hand do not have a heated greenhouse so the temperature and humidity is just right for cuttings to root now. I’m just trying to work with Mother Nature the best I can for the biggest boost. This is what I tell myself at the beginning of August. I take cuttings in May, June and July, too.
I always marvel at people who I see topping or cutting back their dahlias and just tossing those green healthy stems with leaves on the ground to wilt and return to the earth. So many could easily be rooted. It’s the equivalent of throwing down ten dollar bills or more for each leafy stem. You basically only need a bucket of patience and with a little protection you’ll have a viable plant in a few weeks when you root those cuttings properly. It will start out small granted, but it will end the season big. Bigger, alive and quite possibly flowering. Cheers to that.
The above photo shows the side shoots at the bottom still attached. I will take these both off and these will be my two new cuttings. The flowering stem will go in a bouquet or on my table. Not much goes to waste.
Here are the two detached from main stem. Now I will cut off the top growth on the two cuttings. If this remained on the plant and kept growing the top growth would try to send out flower buds shortly. I cut that off as I want it to form roots and not put any growth into flower buds. This helps the Dahlia cutting to reprogram what it should be doing by taking that avenue away.
You can see the top growth is cut back and now I dip it in water and then dip in rooting hormone. I also wet the leaf node area and rub rooting hormone on it.
I am using moistened Perlite to root these Dahlia cuttings in. It is light and doesn’t hold masses of water like some potting soils or peat moss. You want them to be able to form roots easily and also get a little oxygen. Another good rooting medium is vermiculite by itself or coarse sand. I am using what I have available right now. Give them a misting throughout the day. You can set these in a tray with just a little bit (fractions) say 1/4 inch of water for humidity if you cannot mist with water during the day. Keep them out of direct sunshine, a bright shady area is good. Dahlia plants love sunshine but when the cuttings are rooting they need protection.
The rooting should take place in two to three weeks. New growth will emerge and that is a sure sign that it’s rooting. It’s best to leave it be and not poke fingers around the base while you are waiting to see if there are roots. (!) It can be given a diluted liquid fertilizer after it’s rooted. The best thing to do though is to transplant to a larger container in well aged compost when you see roots showing through at the bottom of the pot. Fertilizers can be unkind to new roots and burn them if not diluted.
Mark this on your calendar as things to do now. How are you increasing plants in your garden this week?
Happy Dahlia Gardening.