Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park
United Methodist Church, 5830 N.E. Alameda
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425
Winners from our 2009 show from left: Tiffany Boatwright, Eugene Kenyon,
Audrey Oldenkamp, Larry Smith. Picture by Shirley Bankston
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 11th, 2010 @7:30 p.m.
APRIL TUBER SALE AND AUCTION
Treasurer Larry Sawyer reports combined net proceeds (allowing for new member discounts) was $3701.50. This
demonstrates what we can accomplish as we all pull together to achieve our objectives. 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.
COOKIES FOR MAY
Since we anticipate a good number of people for the Plant and tuber close out sale, could a few members help with a few
cookies? Many donors make for a sweet refreshment interlude.
PROGRAM FOR MAY
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
It is with extreme sadness I must convey the passing of our Life Member, Bob Bloomfield, from complications of a recent
surgery. Bob was 93 years old. Bob is survived by his wife, Myrtle and their daughter, Pat.
Bob and Myrtle met at Kellogg grade school. At first Myrtle didn’t care for Bob at all. But being a persistent sort, Bob
asked Myrtle out a few times in High School and once in their early twenties things began to blossom. In October of this
year Bob and Myrtle would have celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary.
Bob and Myrtle liked to encourage others as dahlia growers. Every spring they made numerous dahlia cuttings (green
plants) which they generously shared with aspiring dahlia converts/growers. Larry Smith is a great example of their
Bob had served as Past President of our Society and the PNDC and also had held various offices within both
organizations. Bob and Myrtle were also recipients of the ADS Gold Medal for lifetime achievement. This is the highest
accolade awarded by the American Dahlia Society.
Bob and Myrtle began growing dahlias in 1953 and first joined our Society in 1956. Bob proved himself to be an
accomplished exhibitor, on many occasion winning Sweepstakes and Best in Show. In their later years they loved the idea
of growing their own seedlings and introducing new cultivars. A few years back Bob remarked to me that the seedlings
were his reason for continuing to grow our favorite flower. This facet is what he most enjoyed! His introductions include
Urchin, Myrtle’s Folly, Half Ass, MBB, Noel, Pink Passion, Myrtle’s Brandy, Tiffany and Patricia Ann.
Quite a legacy!
At this time memorial arrangements are still pending. Please check the Oregonian for an announcement in a week or so.
MASTER GARDENER’S SALE
Saturday, May 1st and Sunday May 2nd marked 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. Better weather on Sunday brought even more customers our way. Many buyers reported losses due to the
extremely cold weather at the first part of December. As of this writing the sales figures are still being tabulated. but should
be available for the May meeting.
SOME THOUGHTS ON GROWING DAHLIAS IN THE PORTLAND AREA
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
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
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.
NB: Hollyhill Cotton Candy was the 2010 winner of the ADS Darrell Hart Memorial Award for its size class and will be
available for auction at the May meeting.
CARE OF GREEN PLANTS
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.
PLANTING AND ALLIED SUBJECTS
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 feeder 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.
THOUGHTS ON THIS SEASON
April of 2010 seems destined to go down as one of the coldest and wettest months west of the Cascades. 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.
Myrtle & Bob Bloomfield with Jeanette Benson
Arrangement by Margaret Kennedy
Kathy's Choice is yellow cactus,
Hollyhill Alzora is large incurved cactus.