I purchased a few dahlias from the Seattle Dahlia Society a few weeks ago and even with our almost non-existent spring temperatures, I figured that it'd be safe to plant them out right about now.
After all these years, I'm continually amazed at such a large plant and extravagant flowers come from a simple little tuber.
While it's getting kind of late to get tubers, dahlia plants become available at local nurseries later in the summer. However, they're often more expensive and the variety is usually poor.
So each spring I always look out for tubers, young plants, or pot roots.
TUBERS: These often come as a cluster of small, thin tubers packaged in sawdust or peat or a single plump tuber with at least one "eye" like the foreground of the photo above.
PLANTS: In late winter, dahlia growers force a few tubers indoors, underlights, to generate what are called "basal shoots" from the tubers. These young, tender shoots are allowed to develop until they're 3-4 inches tall and carefully cut off to create a little cutting, in which they place in media so it can root!! These basal cuttings bloom this summer and form tubers like all the other dahlias! Some varieties respond very well to this treatment and it's a great way of getting more plants as the tubers used to generate this cuttings can also be planted out and will also grow and flower!
POT ROOTS: A somewhat newer method of offering dahlias. These are basically cuttings that have been kept in containers all of last year (or cuttings taken in late summer) so you have this "block" of tubers you can plant out.
Now that they're all in, I need to make sure they're marked so I know where they are and I can place a taller and stronger stake if they need it without fear of spearing the tubers.
Just gotta get the slug bait out as those tender shoots coming up are tasty to slugs and snails.
This is one of my favorites called 'Pooh'