Finding Dahlia Tuber Eyes

Heard reference to dahlia "eyes" but aren't sure what those are? Here's the scoop.

  • A dahlia eye is the tiny nub or growing point that develops into a sprout, similar to the sprouting eye on a potato. This sprout is what grows into your dahlia 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. Be careful, however, not to cut into the collar area where the eyes develop.
  • In spring, 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 (and a single attached tuber). 
  • Some dahlia cultivars produce one or two eyes, while others produce 3 or more.

NOTE: the dahlia eyes in the photos below are more developed than those on most dahlia roots you'll receive. This is because our dahlias are held in cold storage (38 degrees), where temperatures and humidity are controlled to discouraging premature eye development. 

The dahlia on the right, below, was potted and kept in a warm room for 14 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 will not be visible. This is by design, to prevent damage to the tender eyes prior to planting and is NOT grounds for concern. 

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