April 8 2020
Q. wondering when is an approximate time when it would be safe to plant dahlia tubers outside directly into the ground.  I’m a new member .  I do have a soil thermometer. Some of my tubers have eyes showing, some have the beginnings of shoots, and some have not eyed up yet. They’re in my basement at the moment.  Thanks for any suggestions.
A. This is a question we often received from new growers. In our coastal climate, one can plant quite early but there is always a possibility of some frost up until about May 24th. Many have their gardens in what is known as micro-climates and they hardly ever see frost. However, that is not the case for everyone.
Where we used to Iive in Central Saanich, I usually planted about May 1st but I kept an eye on the weather reports especially when clear skies were expected overnight with cool temperatures during the day. We had light frosts even as late as May 24th at our farm and I always had extra 6 to 8 inch pots available to put over the new growth just in case. Even with pots, the frost could penetrate but the damage was usually minimal and as long as the tubers were buried they recovered. When we lived in the interior, hard frosts up until May 24th were common and planting before that date was always taking a chance. We always had to watch the weather and we usually covered early plantings of plants like tomatoes and and peppers that could not take a little frost every night right into early June.
Barry W.
April 6 2020
Q. “When I am “waking” my tubers should I take them out of the plastic baggies or keep them in? I am not planning on repotting them before planting in the ground.”

I store my tubers in plastic bags with vermiculite as well. However, I usually remove my tubers from the bags about April 1st and place them in trays with potting soil and put them under grow lights in my basement where the temperature is about 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) to get them to eye up. This increased temperature gets the tubers to respond more quickly to eyeing up.
If you don’t have the luxury of grow lights, move your bags of tubers to a warmer temperature and check to make sure there are no rotten tubers and leave the bags open to the air to reduce moisture buildup on the inside of the bags. Have a look at the bags on a regular basis to ensure the tubers are okay and not shriveling. If they shrivel you may have to pot them those ones up and if you can put them near a sunny window. Shriveled tubers may or may not grow but if it is a particularly favored variety give potting up a try and make sure you have moistened the soil.
March 25th 2020
Wintering Dahlias in the Garden

question:  “do some varieties of dahlias overwinter in the ground better than others? Even in well drained soil?”

answer:  Yes, some varieties are more winter hardy in our climate than others, even with well drained soil.  Some areas of Greater Victoria are more exposed than others which also makes a difference in the success of overwintering.  Dahlia varieties that I overwinter are Cheyene (a laciniate BB size flower), Cafe ou Lait (very popular informal B size flower) , Rembrant (mignon single flower, border plant 1.5’ high), Reddy (mignon single flower, border plant 2’ high), and Cat’s hot lips (single flower 3.5’ grouping or border plant).  An extreme winter can kill even the best of the wintering dahlias so I always take out some of those plant varieties that I leave in the ground.  Cover garden wintering dahlias with lots of leaves and I know someone who also puts a 3 gallon pot (anchored down) on hers and it works well.  You want to keep out the freezing and the wet which will both rot the tubers.


same question –

Some do over winter, Chilsons Pride is hard to kill. The key is well drained soil as our frosts are not usually sever enough to kill  tubers even 8 inches deep. Some varieties like Jessica are hard to over winter let alone leave in the ground
A lot of the open centers seem to do well left in the ground. We have left maybe 30 in the ground as an experiment. Do they over winter and can we get flowers earlier. All the ones we left in were doubles.

March 28th 2020

Question – Some of my tubers are quite wizened looking.  Is there anything I can do to rescue them?

A – You can soak tuber s in warm water 12 hours I don’t usually do this because I have so many tubers.

Question March 29th 2020
  • My tubers aren’t waking up.  Am I doing something wrong?
  • Do I have to pot the tubers first or can they go right into the ground?


Still early if you do not have a green house. Heat 60 to 70 F will eye them up.
You can keep eyed up tubers in a cool area and it stunts their growth. If you pot and greenhouse  them up they will ready to plant as plants in May.
April 2 2020
Question from the Facebook page. If you have your tubers potted in the greenhouse right now, should your greenhouse be heated as it is still cool at night?
Answer – It is not necessary to heat your greenhouse if you have tubers growing or eyeing up. But, you should have a thermostat controlled heater to make sure the temperature does not go below freezing overnight. If you don’t have this luxury, you can cover the tubers or plants with covers (old blankets work) for night if you are concerned. In this climate you can get frost into late May and a greenhouse gives some protection but always be aware of the weather. We are still getting cold nights and we had frost on the ground and roof a couple of nights ago where we live in North Saanich