How to Identify an Eye on a Dahlia Tuber

How to identify an eye on a dahlia tuber

Are you unsure of what or where the eye is on a dahlia tuber? Do you have a tuber with small eyes that are hard to spot?

Identifying eyes on a dahlia tuber proves that it is able to grow. Ideally, dahlia tubers should also be planted with their eyes facing up. However, sometimes these eyes are pretty hard to spot. Learn how to identify dahlia tuber eyes below.

What is a Dahlia Tuber Eye?

Dahlias are similar to potatoes. Both dahlias and potatoes have tubers. They also both get little “eyes” that sprout into the next year’s plants.

A dahlia eye is small, and usually just looks like a little bump. Once an eye becomes more developed, it becomes easier to see. At that point, it will be green, red or purple, depending on the variety. Interestingly, the color of the eye will not accurately reflect the bloom color. Some varieties simply have different colored eyes.

Dahlia tuber vs. potato
Dahlia tuber compared to potato

Where to Find a Dahlia Eye

The first thing to note is that dahlia tuber eyes will always appear in the area that connects to the stem (this is unlike a potato, which gets eyes all over the tuber). This is called the “collar.”

The collar is where dahlia eyes will sprout

Dahlia tuber eyes will never develop farther down the neck of the tuber than the collar.

Dahlia tuber eyes will not develop here

Unfortunately, this means that if your tuber has broken off from this active growth area, it will not develop into a plant. This is why tubers need to be carefully divided.

No collar, so no eyes
No neck or collar, then definitely no dahlia tuber eyes

Sometimes, eyes will also appear on the stem, itself (it tends to depend on the variety whether or not this happens).

Overachiever dahlia tuber

How to Spot an Easy Eye

Sometimes, a dahlia tuber eye is pretty obvious. Take a look at this example where the eye is beginning to swell:

The perfect dahlia tuber with a purple eye

The growth of this eye has already been activated by ideal growing conditions (the right temperature and the right amount of moisture).

What About a Dahlia Tuber Eye that is Less Obvious?

This is where people have a harder time identifying eyes. Before an eye has sprouted out, it tends to just look like a tiny bump, or wart.

I call this a “pre-eye” because it the eye has not yet begun to sprout. It is so small because it has not been activated by the right amount of moisture and proper temperature. It will begin to sprout as soon as it is planted (or exposed to the right conditions). Again, this will be located in the active growth area. Here are a few pictures:

Dahlia tuber with two eyes
Two eyes marked on dahlia tuber
Perfectly divided dahlia tuber with many eyes
How to see dahlia tuber eyes
Large dahlia tuber with three easy to spot eyes
Three easy to spot eyes
One small dahlia tuber with pruners to scale
One small dahlia tuber with one eye
One small dahlia tuber with one eye
One eye on a small dahlia tuber


At first, dahlia tuber eyes can be hard to spot. I recommend using a magnifying glass if you are having trouble. With practice, you will be able to glance at a dahlia tuber and know that it is viable and how many eyes it has.

Still Not Sure?

If you are still unsure which tubers are viable, consider doing a pre-sprout test. Remember that once you start sprouting a dahlia tuber by planting it, you will not be able to return it to winter storage.

I hope this helps! Sign up for my newsletter for additional dahlia and gardening information.

Happy gardening,

Eve Hanlin