There are not enough superlatives to describe the way Dahlia flowers turn into glowing orbs of color when the sun shines through the petals. Or the sheer delight of taking a garden tour and happening upon a huge dinnerplate Dahlia flower that’s as big as your head and blooming at eye level.
You know you’re at the home of a Gardener (with a capital G) when the borders and flowerbeds are filled with dahlias. The plants take a bit of effort to coax into bloom, but they’re worth it.
Dahlias Are Tubers, Not Bulbs
Dahlias grow from tubers, which are swollen underground stems. They have eyes, which develop into the stems that grow up and produce flower stalks. Another example of a tuber is a potato, to give you a visual reference. When you see potatoes sprouting in the refrigerator drawer, you’re seeing the eyes grow.
Dahlia tuber clusters look like an upside-down bouquet of sweet potatoes. At the top is the old stalk from the previous year’s growth. Tubers, which look like small sweet potatoes, tapering to a point, hang down from the stalk. The eyes are usually located at the top of the tubers, closest to the old stalk.
You can divide dahlia plants that are more than a year old by cutting apart the tuber clump. Each separated tuber needs to have an eye in order to sprout and grow when planted.