Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park
United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425
May 2009
Next meeting May 12th, 2009 @ 7:30 PM
Barbarry Bingo MB DK Red
Portland Dahlia Society Bulletin

Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda

Editor:  Mike Riordan (503)256-0425  Contacts:  Teresa Bergman (360) 274-8292, Jeanette Benson (503) 649-4118

Next meeting Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:30 PM


Treasurer Larry Sawyer reports combined net proceeds (allowing for new member discounts) was $4203.50 which is
larger our budgeted goal.  This demonstrates what we can accomplish as we all pull together to achieve our objectives.  
Our success was aided tremendously by a feature article with color pictures in the Oregonian the week preceding our
sale. We also had a total of 26 new or renewing memberships.  Special thanks to Larry Smith for his work in coordinating
this with Kim Pokarney and the newspaper.   Noteworthy improvements this year were the aerial size signage above each
table, courtesy of Teresa Bergman.  Also creating a premium value table for AA Size and Waterlillies at $4 and up made
so much sense.  Thanks to the many tuber donors.  Thanks to all the volunteers who helped at the preparation workshops
and a huge thanks to Marge Gitts and Swan Island Dahlias for the use of their facilities for packaging and generous
donation of tubers and packaging supplies. Special thanks to those that helped with clean up of the hall after the sale.  My
apologies to anyone not mentioned and mega thanks to everyone who helped make this sale a success.


Bill and Betty Mishler were kind enough to volunteer to bring cookies to the May meeting.  Since we anticipate a good
number of people for the Plant and tuber close out sale, could a few members help with a few more cookies?


Our May program will feature the final sale of the remaining tubers.  (As and if available).  Tuber selection might not be
great, but close out pricing promises to be rock bottom!

Each year many of our members take cuttings of the newer more desirable varieties.  This year our members will be
donating a few of their green plant crop to our plant auction.  This year we again plan to project digital images of the new
offerings.  Aaron Ridling has again consented to handle this task using the society’s digital projector.  Could those
members bringing plants e-mail Aaron with a list of what you are bringing?  Aaron’s e-mail address is   If you have a superior digital image of the variety could you e-mail it to Aaron as well?

We will also have a panel discussion about planting tips and soil preparation.


Teresa Bergman is working on putting together a PDS group order for ADS exhibition vases.  The cost of the vases is $2
each.  There is an additional minimal shipping charge which can only be apportioned once we know for sure the size of
our society’s order.  We need to meet a 50 vase minimum collectively. The vases are black in color and thus meet show
rules in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The vases are made of durable, flexible black plastic.  They can be
nested neatly for winter storage.  Please see Teresa at the meeting or e-mail her at:   to place your
order.  The vases are pictured below.


Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday May 3rd were the dates for the Clackamas County Mater Gardeners’ Spring Garden
Fair.  Despite the changeable weather, our efforts were off to a great start Saturday morning with large crowds attending
the sale.  Late in the afternoon Saturday, the sky took on a dark ominous tone.  We had heavy rain, but the unexpected
60 MPH wind gusts were frightful!  Our canopies quickly took on the unintended function of sails.  It was all the
volunteers could do to keep from becoming airborne!

From the remains of nature’s carnage, Marge Gitts and Jeanette Benson conceived and executed a plan.  The recovery
committee reassembled the tents, racks, tubers and sales presentation in time for the 9:00 AM Sunday opening.  Special
thanks to Larry Smith, Ted Kennedy, Jerry Rasmussen, Gordon Jackman, Jeanette Benson and Marge Gitts.


By Ted Kennedy

When should I plant my dahlias?

The classic answer to that question has been Mother’s Day or about May 10th.  The soil is warm and dry enough to
work and the tubers or plants will grow very fast.  Having said that, I know people who plant much earlier, perhaps
planting as early as April 15th or so.  Frost has occurred as late as April 22nd at my house.  Even if it does not frost, the
soil is cold and wet.  Tuber rot becomes a real issue under such conditions.  Another reason not to plant early is the risk
that there will be a rainy period after you plant and the weeds will grow very fast and you cannot get out there and weed.  
There is no reason to plant rooted cuttings until the last frost date is behind us and again the best date to plant them is right
around May 10th.

But how late can I plant dahlias and have them bloom?

One of our club members has been known to plant as late as July 1st because the soil has been very wet where she
plants.  I would advise people to plant before June 15th if at all possible.  I personally try to get everything planted before
June 1st.

How deep should I bury my tubers?

I put them under about six inches of soil.  One club member likes to plant eight inches deep and he says it helps the pant
produce more tubers.  Some others start out at four to five inches and mound some soil around the sprouts when they
come up, much as people mound the soil around potatoes.

I have some rooted cuttings.  How deep should I plant them?

I plant them a few inches deeper than what they were in the pot so that the plant will grow some tubers along the stalk.  If
the plant is really tall it can be planted in a slanted hole (trench).  If you plant too deep (more than seven or eight inches),
the soil is colder and the plant may not grow as well.

What is the most important thing to do after I have planted my tubers and plants?

Make sure that you have controlled the slug population in your garden.  Slugs are the number one enemy of dahlias early
in the season and will eat the sprouts as they come up.  They will sometimes even burrow down into the ground to live
right on top of your tuber and the tuber will never seem to sprout.  I have found too that the baby slugs are the worst, as
there are so many of them and they grow really fast.  Do whatever you can to control the slugs early in the season.  
Surprisingly, once the plants are two feet tall or so, slugs do not bother them.


It is best to set them out in the cool of the day although this is not absolutely necessary.  Shading them with a couple of
shingles or an inverted peach basket for a few days will aid them in getting off to a good start.  Do not be afraid of them.  
They are very much like a tomato plant in their requirements and the way they should be handled.  If they were very dry
when received submerging the ball of soil in a pail of water until all air bubbles cease to rise before planting them out will
prove beneficial.  Examine the ball of soil and if it is found that the roots have become pot-bound; i.e., the roots have
become crowded and have started to circle around the outside of the ball, all soil should be washed off and the roots
spread out in the hole before covering them up.  If this is not done, proper development of the tubers is hindered and they
are apt to be so badly twisted together when dug that it will be almost impossible to divide them without heavy loss.  
Another reason for this treatment is that if not done the roots may continue to grow in a tight mass and not spread out far
enough to procure the necessary food and moisture. The result is a stunted plant.

Cover the roots and partly fill the hole with soil, firming it well around them but leaving a depression or cup which may be
filled with water.  The hole should be filled in as soon as the water has soaked away.  A small amount of fertilizer
dissolved in this water, any of the starter solutions recommended for use with tomato plants, or a B1 solution, will aid the
plants in getting off to an early start.  It will pay to water the plants the day before setting out with a like solution giving
them an added pickup to counteract the shock of being transplanted.

Green plants should receive steady cultivation from the time they are set out to promote steady growth.  As they are
unlike tubers in having a root system already formed they should be watered occasionally if the weather is at all dry.  With
a green plant both a root system and a top growth have been developed when set out and that top growth must have both
food and water if it is to be kept growing steadily.  Most failures from green plants are due to lack of care in their early
growth, allowing the plant to harden and really stunting it.  If this happens it will pay to cut the top off above the lower
leaves and get a new growth started.

After the plants have become established the top should be pinched out to promote more bushy growth.  If the plant
tends to be tall and leggy it may be advisable to cut it back far enough so that only a couple of sets of leaves are left.


In selecting tubers for planting, small ones are preferable.  The eyes are nearly all on the crown where the tuber is
attached to the stalk.  The main body of the tuber merely serves as storehouse for food to supply the young plants until it
can develop feed roots of its own.  Planting a large tuber is simply supplying the young plant with an overabundance of
food and tends to discourage it from developing a good supply of feed roots of its own.  If one has to use a large tuber,
part should be removed and the cut surface dusted with sulfur before planting.

The previous two items are excerpts from Practical Dahlia Culture published by the Portland Dahlia Society in 1946.


The spring of 2009 seems destined to go down as one of the coldest and wettest seasons west of the Cascades.   Dahlia
growers in Great Britain also report colder and wetter than normal weather.  When we do finally dry out and warm up
(?), the floral display will be glorious with many species of plants blooming simultaneously.  In a normal year the display
would be more sequential.  So look for and appreciate this rare silver lining.

When can the ground be worked?  Try hand working a few areas.  How does the soil cling together?  If the soil seems
tight and adobe like, with water puddling in the bottom of the excavation, you need to let it dry out more.  If in a week to
ten days, the tops of hand turned soil look a bit dry, take another look.  Try loosely packing a ball of earth in your hand
then drop it to the ground from hip high.  If it breaks up on impact, your soil may be ready to till.  What needs to be
avoided is soil compaction caused by roto-tilling soil that is too wet.  If you see you are creating a gummy gooey mess,
STOP!  Revisit and re-evaluate your situation after ten days of relatively dry weather.

Dahlias are a resilient species.  In late June and July they can easily make up for lost time in a hurry.   Better to have them
in a little late, than succumb to rot in cold wet soil.

What causes the new growth on my dahlias to be yellow or lighter green in color?  Generally, this is the plants reaction to
colder night time temperatures.  You will see that different varieties display this characteristic to varying degrees.  This
yellow coloration is not permanent and the plants will gradually grow out of it.

Do you have some clumps left in the ground from last year?  If they are in a well drained location like you would find near
the eves of your home, they might now be coming up.  If you would like to dig them up, divide and replant them this can
be done all at once.  Just make sure that each tuber you replant has a sprout or some growth.  If you do this a little later in
the season with some green growth on the plant, this is not a problem.  You will encounter some wilting which can be
mitigated by shading with a piece of cardboard staked vertically on the South side of the plant. (Easier to find than a
peach basket)  After moving to the new location, the wilting should go away in about ten to fourteen days.  Do not
attempt to compensate for the wilting by over watering.  This will only encourage tuber rot. Once the feeder roots begin
to re-establish themselves in the new location, all will be well.

Good luck and best wishes in all your gardening endeavors.
This is one of the only true
black dahlias. It was introduced
by Clack's Dahlias.