Digging, Dividing, and Storing Dahlia Tubers Page 5

Bag the Tubers.

Bagging the tubers is a convenient way to keep your dahlias in variety groups. It also provides a convenient way of putting your tubers in one of several different mediums that keeps the moisture and temperature of the dahlias fairly constant during the storage period. I put about four cups of coarse vermiculite in a one gallon plastic produce bag (a bag with fine holes at about 1/2 inch intervals available in the plastic bag section of your supermarket.) This bag can breathe, but at the same time keeps the fine material from the vermiculite contained in the bag.

Other materials also work well: sphagnum peat moss, wood shavings, and sawdust for example.

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Box the Tubers.

Even though you may bag your tubers, you must put them in some container that will prevent light from getting to the tubers. A box made of plastic, cardboard, wood, or whatever will do as long as the lid can be closed to prevent light from getting to the tubers. Of course, if the room where you store them is always dark--a crawl space for example--the box would not be absolutely necessary. It might be convenient, however.

To help ameliorate the swings of temperature in the room in which the tubers are stored, I fill all the spaces between the bags with vermiculite.

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Temperature of Storage Room

The place where your tubers are to be stored ideally would be around 45 degrees fahrenheit. From experience, I have learned that a temperature range of 35 to 50 degrees fahrenheit is O.K. To dampen the swings in temperature of the room that I store them in, I fill the spaces between the bags as I pack them in the boxes with more vermiculite. Using a high low thermometer I have ascertained that the temperature inside each box stays within a range of 41 to 47 degrees fahrenheit as compared to the room temperature range of 35 to 50 degrees fahrenheit.

I randomly check bags of tubers once a month, and check all bags twice each storage season--December and March. Rotting tubers are removed and the bag involved is aired for a couple of hours. A bag in which the tubers are drying out is given a squirt of water from a spray bottle and returned to storage.

I lose about 10 percent of the tubers originally stored each year.

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