Finding Dahlia Tuber Eyes

If you've heard reference to dahlia "eyes" but aren't sure what those are, here's the inside scoop.

  • A dahlia eye is the tiny nub or growing point that develops into a sprout. It's similar to the eye on a potato. The sprout is what grows into your big, beautiful plant.
  • Eyes grow around the collar of the root, where the tubers connect with last year's stem.
  • Feel free to trim down the old dead stem from last year, it will not regrow. Just be careful not to cut into the collar area where the eyes develop.
  • Early in the season, before the roots have broken dormancy, the eyes can be so small even experts have trouble finding them. Look for little bumps that are ivory, tan, pale green or pink. Many dahlia cultivars have eyes that aren't visible.
  • To grow a new plant, a root or root clump needs a single eye. Some dahlia cultivars produce just one or two eyes, while others produce 3 or more.

NOTE: the dahlia eye in the right hand photo below is more developed than those on most dahlia roots we ship. Our dahlias are held in cold storage (38 degrees), where temperatures and humidity are controlled to discouraging premature eye development. The dahlia in the right photo was kept in a warm potting room for 10 days; the eye has swollen and started to develop. 

If you've purchased dahlias from retail stores previously, those tubers have been held at room temperature and often have visible eyes. Frequently, they also have pale, leggy shoots that break with handling and planting, which is obviously better avoided.

The eyes on most of the dahlia clumps we ship won't be visible. This is NOT grounds for concern. This is by design, to prevent damage to the tender eyes prior to planting.

Your dahlia's eyes will appear with the addition of warmth and a little (not much!) moisture, when you've planted the tuber clump.