Lifting Dahlia Plant

Even on lifting there are two schools of thought; some say that a fork is best on light soils, and a spade on heavy, whereas others advocate using a spade whatever the soil.

A spade, if used carelessly, may cut through tubers which a fork would miss, but there is much less chance of breaking tubers as the whole weight will be supported on the blade. If a fork is used, some part of the tuber may resist lifting, as the finer roots have not been removed, and severe damage may be caused by the uneven pressure.

A strong pair of secateurs should be used for cutting through the stems, using a tenon saw for plants with very thick stems. If the weather is dry, and particularly if the summer has been a good one, hot and dry for a great deal of the time, then it is usually advised that the tubers should be left in the ground for a week or ten days after cutting down.

It is best to remove all loose soil from around the tubers immediately after lifting, except in the case of plants which have made only thin, fragile tubers. These are best left with much of the soil intact as this will materially help in reducing moisture loss. This also applies to certain varieties which tend to make bulbous tubers with a thin neck at the point of attachment to the crown; if the soil is removed the weight of the unsupported tuber will probably fracture the thin neck.

Though it is difficult to prove that these theories are right it certainly does no harm in dry weather. If the tubers are left in the ground, the cut down haulm should be heaped over the stump to act as a frost guard.

Use wire rather than string for this purpose as string may rot in store; there have been instances also where mice have removed string, presumably for nesting purposes. There is not much point in taking a great deal of trouble to ensure correct naming and labelling if the whole is rendered abortive through the label becoming detached.

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