Dahlias growing in our bathroom closet

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Two years ago, I planted a few dahlias from seed and they quickly became one of our favorite flowers in the garden. Each fall, I dig out their tubers and stow them away in our bathroom closet for the winter.

Why the bathroom closet, you ask? Well, for no special reason other than the fact that our apartment has a very large bathroom closet. It's so big that it accommodates not only all of our toiletry items, cleaning products and linens, but also our miscellaneous tools and gardening equipment, among other things. Since we don't have our own basement or garage, the wintering dahlias go there.

This year, we're adding a new dahlia to our home-grown collection -- the bright orange and white-tipped Megastar. We couldn't resist this one when we saw it in the gardening store. Isn't it a beauty? (Well, as glorious as it is, it too has had to stay in our un-glorious closet since February when we bought it.)

So last Sunday, I was out in the garden ready to plant the dahlias when I saw something interesting. All of the tubers -- both the home-grown and store-bought varieties -- had already begun to grow a stem. I wondered how -- from the confines of the bathroom closet, with no access to daylight or fluctuations in outdoor temperatures -- did they know when to start growing? What triggered them? How did they know it was time?

We all know that potatoes, if left to sit long enough, will grow roots. But these dahlias -- both the home-grown and the store-bought -- had been in the dark for different periods of time and each one had grown a stem of about the same length -- not roots, but a stem.

Apparently they just "sensed" that it was time to start growing. They just knew. It was time to get out of the closet and become glorious dahlias.

I don't know how it works, but this was just fascinating to me.


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