Growing and Starting Dahlias in Alaska (aka the joys of plastic bag gardening)

dahlias in an Alaska Garden. Salmonatseven.com

Last year I took a dahlia class after having had dahlias once the previous summer. I loved them, and they were pretty, and I went way overboard and spent a boatload of money on “exotic” starts.

The class was so cool! I learned lots of interesting tidbits;
1. Dahlias don’t seed true. You can break your back saving seeds of a cool flower and have it’s “children” look nothing like it.
2. The only way to get the same plant is by cuttings or tubers.
3. Dahlias are super easy to winter over and start.
4. Container gardens are totally doable.
5. Ziplock bags are going to be your BFF in Alaska or other cold weather dahlia gardening.

Ziplock bags? Really????
I rolled my eyes too, but having experienced the joys of ziplock gardening, I’ll never go back. I invite you to join the clear side.

Let’s pretend you’ve already gone through the messy process of digging up your dahlias the previous fall, separating any tubers ( or not… And getting giant clumps of dahlia root). Maybe you thought ahead and popped them into plastic ziplock bags that you painstakingly labeled.

If so then your job is nearly all done! In April, just pop a little dirt into the bag, pop the bag into a tray and “snuggle” it up to its pals. Just make sure that the soil stays damp so that the little plant baby-making chemical photosynthesis reactions can take place. This doesn’t involve intensive watering.

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Just like this.

Ignore the peat pot greenhouse that you see in the picture because I’ll get to that in a moment.

Pretty much, toss them in front of a sunny window and ignore them. Check every 10-14 days to make sure the dirt isn’t getting toooo dry. Unless you’re like me and you stalk the plants and count them and the shoots/starts daily. Imayhaveaproblem.

When it comes time to plant them, just slice open the ziplock and slide the dirt into the hole you created in your ground or container. Voila! Easy peasy.

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OK. Supposing you’re starting from seeds or purchased tubers, the process is the same.

Supposing it’s fall and you’re wanting to save your tubers for spring, well that’s a blog for another day. But it’s easy, just knock the dirt off, label them and store them in a cool, dry place for the winter.

Back to my lovely faux greenhouse with the peat pod pots. I love starting seeds in these for herbs and veggies… But what happens when your herbs get too big?

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Yep! Ziplock bags!!

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