All about Dahlias

Dahlia Growers – Tubers And Winter Storage

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Like every other garden flower, the dahlia has its special pests, and reknowned Dahlia grower Conrad Faust has been fighting them every year. During past seasons he found malathion spray to be very effective against most dahlia pests. He reported, however, that there was a serious outbreak of red spider in many dahlia gardens in the Atlanta area. Sprays seemed to be ineffective, but upon recommendation of the state entomologist the plants were sprayed or dusted with sulfur and this brought the trouble under control. Mr. Faust says this same sulfur is also excellent for the control of mildew which often attacks dahlia foliage in hot, humid weather.

Conrad is always being asked how he digs and stores his dahlia tubers.

The clumps are dug very carefully so as to avoid breaking or injuring the tubers. He then washes all the soil off them with a hose; next he cuts off all the fibrous roots from the tubers, and after that he allows them to dry for a day or two in the garden. Ho is very careful, of course, to label each clump as it is dug, using an indelible pencil for this purpose. Some of Mr. Faust’s clumps are too large and cumbersome for storing, and so he cuts the largest ones in half and dusts the cut portions with sulfur before putting them away for the winter. The smaller clumps are turned upside down to allow all the moisture to drain from the stems.

Largest Dahlia Plot Is Not In Direct Sunlight

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

To the Swedish botanist, Andrew Dahl, must go the credit for the early development of the dahlia in the late 1700′s, but to Conrad E. Faust – of Swedish descent – must go a large share of the honor for having made the South dahlia conscious of the flower.

Years ago the dahlia was a second-rate flower in Georgia compared with others like the gladiolus, but it began to pick up in popularity when Mr. Faust took to dahlia culture in earnest. Being a business man, he looked to his garden for exercise and a hobby. He developed a sincere love for dahlias and devoted much of his time to the development and promotion of this flower in the South.

For years gardeners in Mr. Faust’s area looked to him for recommendations of the best varieties to plant in the South, since he always tried new varieties from all parts of the country and systematically discarded any that are not perfectly adaptable to his locality.

Unleashing Growth Of The Dahlia Root System

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Because most Georgia soils are rather heavy, the Father of Georgia Dalhia growing Conrad Faust went to great length to incorporate quantities of humus into his garden. Over the years he built up an ideal soil by adding leaf-mold, stable manure and peatmoss, in addition to which he plants his entire plot to a green cover crop after the tubers are dug in the fall. The cover crop, which may be of rye, vetch or Austrian winter peas, is plowed under in the spring in time to rot and mellow before dahlia planting time.

Moisture conservation is one of the phases of soil management that Mr. Faust stresses. He digs his soil thoroughly to a depth of 12 inches, breaking up any hardpan that may form in the subsoil. This permits an unrestricted growth of the dahlia root systems.

A strict fertilizing schedule is also advocated. Starting with the initial preparation of the soil just before planting time. “A fertilizer of 3 or 4 per cent nitrogen, 10 per cent phosphate and 5 or 6 per cent potash is ideal. When planting, two good handsful of bonemeal together with a small amount of the commercial fertilizer (say a level tablespoonful) should be added to the soil in a radius of at least 2 feet where the dahlia will be planted – or this can be broadcast over the soil.”

How To Care Of The Dahlia Tubers

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Although winter weather does not permit gardening outdoors in December, the Northern gardener does have a few opportunities to actively practice his hobby. For example, it is during this month (December) that he can clean and store the tender summer flowering bulbs and tubers until they can be used again for the garden next year.

The dahlias that were dug after hard frosts ended their season’s growth need a little attention now. Tubers that have a great deal of soil clinging to them because they were dug when the ground was very moist or because they were growing in a very heavy soil which tends to stick to the roots, should be cleaned by gently rubbing away the dried earth or washing it off.

Some dahlia growers object greatly to the washing method, but others practice it regularly. If they are cleaned with water they should he allowed to dry off before packing them for the winter.

For years, vermiculite has become a favored packing material for dahlia tubers and the bulbs, roots and tubers of other plant materials that have to be dug and stored for the winter. Dahlia tubers must be handled with great care so that the individual tubers do not break off at the main stalk without possessing a part of the latter and the growth “eyes” that will produce a new plant next year.

Give Dahlias And Begonias A Lift

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

October may provide brilliant color in the landscape but it also signals an end of another growing season. Let’s look at some of the things needed to be done in the landscape.

Dahlias can remain in the ground until after frost. Cut off the stems six inches above the ground and lift carefully, for the tubers are brittle and break off easily. Discard any that do. Place the clumps in flats, stem side down, and let them dry off before storing. Just before storing cut off the fine roots and cut the stem back to within an inch or two of the crown. They are best stored in a cool place (about 40 degrees) but may be stored at a warmer temperature if covered with peatmoss or sand. Line the storage boxes with paper. A dusting of sulphur before storing will prevent rot. Be sure to tie labels to the clumps so you will know what is what next year.

Tuberous begonias are lifted after the foliage has yellowed, but don’t remove the foliage until it is dry. Remove the dried stems and clean off the dry soil. Store the tubers in flats in a warm place (50 to 60 degrees) and cover them with peatmoss. They need good circulation of air to prevent rot.

Information on Heating Dahlia Greenhouse

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Heating by means of oil heaters is comparatively widely practised, and in a small greenhouse there is a lot to be said in favour of this method. There are however a number of disadvantages. If a high temperature is maintained the cost, although much less than electrical heating, is higher per cubic foot of space than the boiler system. Then too this form of heating, as it relies upon a supply of oxygen for combustion, has a very serious drying effect on the air; this can be minimised by using water trays, but it is not easy to maintain a buoyant atmosphere even when these are used.

On the other hand, the temperature is automatically controlled by a thermostat, so that very little attention is required, and certainly no stoking, which can be a somewhat unpleasant task on a cold night. Of all the various electrical systems available probably the most useful is that based on a water circulatory system, as there is some small reserve of heat should the current fail and, in addition, the drying effect on the air in the greenhouse is not so marked as in the normal radiant type.

Dahlia Pot Tubers

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Most growers use plants surplus to planting requirements for this purpose. It is a most useful way of utilising either early struck cuttings which have become pot bound, or late struck cuttings which are unlikely to produce flowers before the frosts. It is advisable to put aside at least one or two plants for this purpose just in case anything does go wrong with the large tubers.

If neither frame, substitute frame, nor space in the garden can be found, a bed can be made up on a pathway or concrete surround by standing loose bricks on their narrow side to form a rough rectangle, of the required area.

This show is, of course, staged by the National Dahlia Society, which is the premier society catering for the dahlia in the British Isles, with members in England, Scotland, Wales and both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Among its activities it makes available all known information on the dahlia, gives advice to members and affiliated societies, maintains a national register of judges and lecturers and co-operates with similar societies in other countries. Covering, as it does, an extremely wide area, there is a Northern Committee, which looks after the main interests of members north of the Trent, organising at least one provincial show, and staffing bureaux at the bigger Northern shows.

Supporting Dahlia Stems

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Some giant and some large varieties bear blooms on very long footstalks which are liable to snap from the first joint in high winds.

When staging blooms with thick stems in a comparatively small vase, it is often advisable to remove a tapering slice from the side of some of the stems to enable the sterns to be inserted at the right angle. This will not harm the bloom so long as the cut area is fully submerged.

The John Innes base fertiliser is made up from 2 parts hoof and horn, 2 parts superphosphate of lime, and I part sulphate of potash (all parts by weight) giving an approximate analysis of nitrogen 5.1%, phosphoric acid 7.2%, potash 9.7%. It can be purchased ready made up from most horticultural sundriesmen.

Blooms with a weak neck can often be persuaded to hold their heads at the right angle by tying a pad of material to the end of the supporting cane, forcing this right up under the bud so that the bud cannot drop as the florets open. When placing blooms into water make sure that the lower leaves do not go into the water, as they arc liable to rot.

Tips on Managing Dahlia Greenhouse

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

If an all-glass house has been purchased it is as well to line the lower part during the period when in use as a propagating house, using either sheets of polythene film or roofing felt, to help maintain a more effective temperature control.

For preference the house should be positioned to run from east to west, rather than from north to south, as this method gives more light inside the house at a time when the altitude of the sun is low, and maximum light is desirable. In addition it makes it much easier to shade any part of the benches, without unduly cutting the light to any other part.

Any light material can be used for this, scrim, the remains of old sheets, or even old, light curtains-these last may not look very well in the greenhouse, but they will serve a useful purpose. Newspaper also can be used quite effectively. To carry the shading, wires should be stretched along the length of the greenhouse, at the height of the shelving on a line just above the outside edge of the propagating bench, so that the shading material can be hung from these wires as and when required.

Dahlia in Greenhouse

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Going back a little to the requirements of a greenhouse, it will be obvious that it is an advantage to have a separate potting shed if possible. Even if this is not possible, some provision should be made for keeping the potting materials, soil, sand, peat and the made up soil compost under cover, as these will deteriorate if left out exposed to the elements. Apart from deterioration these potting materials should be sterile and it simply is not possible to keep them this way if carelessly stacked out in the open. Clay pots should be scrupulously clean. They are best put into warm water in an old bath and carefully scrubbed before use, with some mild disinfectant added to the water in which they are soaked.

They should be stacked under cover until required for use. New pots must be soaked for a few hours before being used, as otherwise they will tend to dry out excessively quickly. All water used in greenhouse and frame should be free from infection. It is not really good to use rain water, particularly in industrial areas, as so often this has been allowed to stand in a filthy butt or tank for several days or even weeks before use, apart from containing possible harmful chemicals washed from roof and gutter.

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