Meets second Tuesday of the month at Rose City Park United Methodist Church,
5830 N.E. Alameda
Editor: Mike Riordan (503) 256-0425
October 2009
Editor: Mike Riordan (503)256-0425 Contacts: Teresa Bergman (360) 274-8292, Jeanette Benson (503) 649-4118

Next meeting Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 @ 7:30 PM

Cookie hosts for October are Gary Murphy and Tiffany Boatwright.


Again this year we will have a competition for the best seedling.  First through third year are ok, as long as they will not
appear in the 2010 ADS Classification Book. We will have an award for the best show dahlia as well as the best and most
unusual cut flower. So bring one or more entries to this debut competition.


Our program for October will include the selection of next year’s flower of the year.  This should be a flower that’s easy to
grow, B size or smaller, widely available commercially and one that’s not already served as dahlia of the year for the past
five years.  Past flowers of the year are as follows:

2009-Weston Spanish Dancer
2008-Chimicum Katie
2007 – Pam Howden
2006– Woodland’s Wildthing
2005– Cornel

Members are encouraged to bring a staged entry of their nomination for 2010 Flower of the Year and the winner will be
determined by popular vote.

We will also have a panel discussion of the ins and outs of digging, dividing and storing dahlias.  So bring your ideas and
questions to the meeting.


At the meeting we will have undivided clumps of dahlias available.  They will be sold using the “silent auction” method.
Members are asked to bring a few clumps of surplus stock that can be donated to this event.  Please make sure the clumps
are well washed and marked with the variety name. We will have 3 x 5 note cards available for the bidding which can take
place before the meeting or during the refreshment break. Last year members liked this program idea. We will repeat this
program feature at the November meeting.


PDS would like to announce a contest to create a theme for our upcoming national show in 2012. All national American
Dahlia Society shows have a theme that reflects the club, its location, or another important characteristic tied to the show.
A theme gives the show cohesion and is important in the creation of publicity for the event. We are looking for a simple
theme that reflects our club and our passion for dahlias. Some past examples of themes from national shows are:

‘100 Years of Dahlias’- Snohomish 2009
‘The Magnificent Mile of Dahlias’- Chicago 2007            

The winning entry will be picked by popular vote and the winner will receive a $25 gift certificate toward the purchase of
dahlias from one of our commercial club members. You may submit as many ideas as you can come up with. Please submit
your ideas to Tiffany Boatwright via email at or in person. We will keep the contest open until a
sufficient number of entries have been submitted. Good luck!


We are now officially on our way to hosting the ADS national show in 2012, having just finalized and signed a contract
with the Red Lion Jantzen Beach as our show site. The Red Lion is located just off I-5 right next to the Columbia River
and will provide our exhibit space, banquet facilities, meeting rooms, and guest rooms. Our exhibit hall is quite large at
18,000 ft with plenty of light and ample room to stage entries. Both the exhibit hall and the banquet hall feature floor to
ceiling windows that face the river. Guestroom prices have been locked in at $119.00 per night, only a $10 increase from
this year’s national show. The Red Lion is providing us with large rooms to hold the judges and clerks meeting, the
required ADS meetings, and any additional educational presentations that we would like. The hotel has free parking, and
free airport shuttle service. We will also be provided with 130 free tables for our exhibit hall.

Our next step is to begin raising money to fund our show. Teresa Bergman has volunteered to head the fundraising
committee and will need many other volunteers to help with this task. If you are interested in being on the committee or
have any fundraising ideas, please contact Teresa or myself. We will need the efforts of all club members to make this
show a success. Everyone has something to offer, be it stuffing envelopes or heading up a committee. There will be a need
for members who don’t exhibit to volunteer during the show so that the members who do will have time to enter and judge
blooms. Please remember that family members and friends will likely be glad to help with this event. We are well on our
way to a spectacular event!

Tiffany Boatwright, Show Chair


To dig or not to dig…?  Soon the colors will begin to fade and forms will become more imprecise. The sunny brisk fall
days of October will begin to wane and be inevitably followed by the wet, short, cold, overcast days of late November.  
An advantage to digging this month is the soil is not yet waterlogged and the soil comes away from the tubers more easily.
Also consider there may be some spots in your garden which have poor drainage and these areas should be first dug.
Moreover, some varieties are more susceptible to rot in waterlogged November soil. Notoriously hard to winter over
varieties like Rhonda, Mi Wong or Hallmark should be lifted and stored first before soil borne molds begin to do their

If you have planted multiple plants of the same variety, compare them carefully to determine which plants have produced
the best flowers.  Which plants appear more vigorous and have the best centers and overall form?  This is your superior
stock which you will want to replant or in some instances take cuttings from next year.  I sometime code the tubers and the
plastic tag with an “x” by the name to so indicate.

Many of us are still making crosses and attempting to save seed for next year’s stars of tomorrow. It is ok to harvest the
seed pods if they are firm and straw yellow in color.  Some growers like to break open and dry the seeds from the ripe
pods.  Others prefer to leave the pods whole and allow them to dry naturally in a dry location.  I find it easy to cut the pods
with foot long stems and then dry my pod bouquets grouped in ADS plastic exhibition vases.  Sometimes I find I’ll leave a
seed pod parent alone for a few weeks until the pods become more mature.  My digging methodology is quite purposeful
although it may appear random.

If you are growing seedlings, I would suggest digging your first year keepers prior to frost.  In many instances they are
planted more shallowly than established varieties, thus being more vulnerable to a hard freeze.  Many seedling growers
believe in splitting the first year clumps in two prior to storing away.  This tends to lessen the probability of crown rot.  A
dip of all cut portions of all dahlia tubers into an anti-fungal agent helps prevent rot during storage.   I use a Captan
solution.  Others find Benelate solution or household bleach mixed one to ten parts water effective in stopping rot or mold.  
Always be sure to allow your cut tubers time to cure after having divided and treated the cut portions.  This should be done
at storage temperature and will take 24 to 72 hours depending on relative humidity. What works well for me is dividing,
curing and storing my tubers in my attached garage.

A quick note on marking tubers… The best device I’ve found is an indelible pencil called A Bottle of Ink in a Pencil.  It
produces ink-like marks on slightly moist tubers.  We hope to have some of these available for sale at the October meeting.

It also makes sense to bring in your potroots prior to a killing frost.  Just cut off the stalks even with the soil and pack up
the pot, potting soil and root into storage boxes for safe keeping in your tuber storage location.  Alternatively, potroots can
be easily stored in nursery flats in your normal storage location and watered once a month. Tubers that have grown out of
the drainage holes can be either left or removed.  My experience has been if makes no difference.  The only advantage of
removal is tighter and neater packing of the storage boxes or flats.

By Max Ollieu

Autumn, my favorite time of the year.  Weather is settled most of the time, days are still warm, nights cool, and dahlias
blooming until a clear, cold night comes along to end the growing season.  For those of us who choose to groom our plants
for dahlia shows, the daily routine changes considerably after the last show.  At least for me, other than deadheading, no
more disbudding, no more pesticide application, no more leaf and lateral removal, etc.  A great time to make even more
bouquets for the house and visiting relatives and friends.  Also a great time to focus on photography using the fall colors as
background for different dahlia varieties.  And, a great time to visit other dahlia gardens to see their varieties, settings,
cultural approaches and to, of course, socialize.  Where else can one find better friends than our fellow dahlia growers!!

Having said and experienced all the above, I’m also starting to prepare for the Big Dig.  That means getting all soaker
hoses rolled up and stored, removing extra stakes needed for support, and any other obstacles such as shade cloth and any
structure that could be in the way.  I also begin removing that percentage of dahlia varieties that didn’t perform up to my
satisfaction.  Sometimes that is 100 percent, but usually 10-25 percent of the plants in a variety that I don’t want to grow
or have others grow.  Each year, it seems I get a little more discriminating as to what qualifies to keep within a variety.  My
suspicion is that much of what I discriminate against has virus as a driver.  Probably just greater evidence of viral-related
symptoms in particular plants within a variety.  Already, my Edna C variety is down to one plant.  Hopefully there will be
enough tubers from that one plant to take cuttings next spring and get back to the number of plants I wish to grow.

Meanwhile, I am also covering the walkways between the rows in my garden with composted wood shavings and horse
manure.  That mulch along with the Big Leaf Maple leaves from three trees shading my lawn will completely cover the
garden and walkways for the winter.  By spring, earthworms will have consumed nearly all the mulch I am now applying
and the weeds and grass will have been held mostly in check.

Killing frosts generally hit my garden after the second week of October.  However, I don’t wait for a killing frost to get
started digging root clumps.  Varieties I don’t plan to keep are dug first and the most valuable last.  Warm dry days are
more of a problem early, so I risk dahlia varieties less valuable to me.  My prized varieties get to grow until the tops are
killed by a frost and the tubers are as developed as they can get.  Wetter, cooler days later are better conditions for
maintaining tuber quality while the root clumps are divided and dried prior to storage in vermiculite.  It works best for me to
dig about as many root clumps as I can process in one day.  I dig, wash and label a variety before moving them into my
garage for 1-2 days, then divide, dust with sulfur, let dry another day before placing in one gallon plastic bags with open
tops with vermiculite just covering the tubers.  Vermiculite is dampened with ¼ cup of water to one gallon of vermiculite.  
The gallon bags are stored in plastic crates which hold 12-20 bags, depending on size.  Most of my dividing is done after
dark with the music turned up.

Before the society meetings in October and November, I select healthy root clumps of varieties that can be sold as
fundraisers at the meetings.  It’s an easy way to dispose of surplus root clumps without having to divide them.  I encourage
others to support our society by taking a few of their surplus root clumps to those meeting as well.

Happy digging!!


The American Dahlia Society maintains a website at which provides lots of useful information and
links.  If you have a computer and enjoy learning more about dahlias this is a great resource.  On the ADS website there
are links to joining e-mail newsgroups-bulletin boards like the dahlia- net and dahlia- creating  and dahlias (all at

The Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference has a web site located at Here you
will find lots of eye-popping dahlia photographs as well as information about the PNDC and its member dahlia clubs.

The Portland Dahlia Society’s own website is at  Here you will find more information
about our club’s history, pictorial tours of the Canby Trial Garden, tour a member’s garden and see many great dahlia
photographs.  Both the Portland and the PNDC website are created and maintained by our own Ted Kennedy.  Thanks
Ted for all you do.                   


The ball dahlia “Cornel” was named by its originator Mr. Geerlings of Holland for himself “Cor” and his wife named “Nel”.  
It has nothing to do with Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Bill Tapley the Australian originator of the Aitara line of dahlias named Aitara April after no one individual but the month it
first bloomed.  In time of year Australian April is comparable to North American October.

This Australian tidbit was provided courtesy of our friend, Ron Wilkes, who just completed a month long stay with dahlia
friends throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Thanks, Ron, we sure enjoyed your company!
Portland 2009 Seedlings
Jessica at Portland show 2009 shown by Ray Sturman
Jessica at Portland show 2009 shown by Ray Sturman