Propagation by Cuttings:
A running essay by Tom Cleere

Page 1

I have found cuttings provide an inexpensive method to increase the number of plants in the garden and to supply high quality blooms for the exhibitor. Most tubers are capable of creating between 3 and 10 new plants each Spring. Often the cuttings are be shared with friends new to dahlia culture. Last year we sold over 150 cuttings to members of the Mid Island Dahlia Society.

For my own garden of 120 plants last year approximately 45% were cuttings and the remainder were tubers. However my show results reflected 70% of ribbon winners originated from cuttings. I realize 1 year may not be predictive of future results, but I shall monitor the 1999 garden to see if the trend continues. I will photograph and update the process in anticipation of a May planting date for my area (Long Island, NY). New information will be added to these pages approximately every two weeks, reflecting the current stage of activity necessary to produce cuttings.

Material needed now: Aluminum pans or seed trays.

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Pro Mix or vermiculite. At the beginning of February I remove the tubers from storage. I fill either deep aluminum pans or plastic seed starting flats about 2" deep with Pro Mix, a product sold in 3.8 cubit foot bags usually in nurseries. The medium resembles a combination of peat moss, vermiculite, and seed starter. I've also used 2/3 vermiculite with 1/3 peat moss, with pretty much the same result. As long as the medium has the ability to stay damp (not wet), I have not noticed much difference in choices.

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Examine the tuber to see if any eyes are recognizable. If so place on top of dampened mix so the eye or potential eyes are facing up. Press the tuber down into the medium until ½ buried.

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Make sure each tuber is readily identifiable with a name tag or written on the tuber with indelible ink.

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