How to Divide Dahlia Tubers

Posted by Sarah Kistner on

Learn to Divide Dahlias

Dividing dahlias can cause a lot of anxiety when you're first learning- and even after you've done thousands, it can still be a daunting task. But, like anything it just takes practice and you'll grow more comfortable with time. Learning a few tips and knowing what to look for when dividing will help you approach the task with more confidence.

Every plant will produce multiple tubers connected to a main central stem. You can easily multiply your stock each year by dividing off each healthy tuber that has a viable eye on it. If properly cared for, each tuber will produce a whole new plant the next season with many new tubers. You don't have to divide each one off separately, but if you want to really increase your stock this is one way to do it!

A few things to consider about dividing dahlias:

  • You don't have to divide them- you could replant an entire clump!
  • You don't have to divide your clump down into each of its individual tubers, you can also just split the clump into a few pieces- as long as they have eyes, they'll grow.
  • When dividing dahlias- especially if you're a beginner- it's much easier to do when you can see the eyes. Usually the eyes are easiest to find a few days after being cut back and again in the spring when they want to start growing again. Or, you can start gently warming up your tubers in late winter to make it easier to find the eyes.
DIVIDING: WHERE TO START

Learning to divide your dahlia tubers can feel overwhelming when you’re first getting started, so we’ve made a quick video to show you our process. In this first video I walk you through what to look for when you’re getting started. There are a few key things that really help to know when you’re ready to start dividing your dahlia clumps.

To create a healthy new plant next year each tuber must have the following:

 

1. A viable eye

2. A strong neck that connects to the crown of the tuber

3. Enough energy stored in the tuber to get the growing process started next spring (meaning sometimes even a very dried out tuber can still be viable!)

When starting to divide your dahlias sometimes just figuring out where to begin is the hardest part. It can feel intimidating. The first thing we do is to remove any tubers that were badly damaged during harvesting, we'll remove the Mother tuber, and then we'll clip off all the smaller dried root hairs just so we can get a better look at what we're diving into.

I suggest starting with this video if you're new to dividing dahlias:

If you want a closer view of what dahlia eyes look like, here are a few pictures that should help give you a better idea. 

Eye on a dahlia tuber

The eyes in the small tuber clump below are a little more difficult to see than in the photo above. They appear as raised bumps, but haven't quite broken the surface yet as sprouts.

Eyes on dahlia tubers

Tuber to be trimmed

In the photo above you can see a growth that looks a lot like a tuber dangling off the main tuber. This should be cut off, it isn't viable.

In the above photo you can see that the neck connecting this tuber to the crown is completely broken and the tuber is just dangling straight down. There's not enough of a good connection here so this tuber should be cut off- it won't be viable.

Once you feel comfortable identifying the different parts of the tuber you're ready to start dividing!

 

 Please let me know if you have any questions- I'm happy to help!.

If you're looking for information on how to store your dahlias over winter, jump over to our storage post here.

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