Victoria Dahlia Society

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    Tuber Splitting and Winter Storage Demonstration – Oct. 3 and Oct. 26, 2013

    October is the month to start thinking about storing your dahlia tubers over winter! Our club’s preferred practice is splitting and storing. If you do not already have a tried-and-true method, please come to one of our info sessions on tuber splitting and storage!! Info sessions are free and open to the public! All you need is to attend!

    If you are new to growing dahlias these info sessions are really informative and valuable! Some of the topics we will be discussing:

    – How to look for eyes on your tuber clump(s)

    – The best way to divide them

    – A few different storage techniques that work well.

    For those with questions, experienced club members will be available to answer questions about splitting and winter storage.

    Choose from one of these times:

    Thursday, October 3, 2013 – 2800 Blanshard St. at the Wellesley. General Victoria Dahlia Society Meeting starting at 7:30 pm. Program topic: Tuber splitting and storage.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 – at Victoria Dahlia Society President Phil Newton’s house. Time to be determined; but likely late morning-early afternoon. To attend, RSVP to:

    We really hope to see you there!!

    And The Winners For Our 67th Annual Dahlia Show Are….

    Hopefully everyone made it out to our 67th Annual Dahlia Show at Westshore Town Centre on the weekend of August 17th and 18th!! The blooms entered by everyone were absolutely spectacular and I for one enjoyed seeing everyone’s entries. Each bloom represents time and care and effort on behalf of the grower and I want to say “Well done!” to everyone who entered. I hope you will enter your blooms again next year!!

    As this is a show, entries were judged and ribbons awarded. Without further ado here is the list of winners:

          2013 Victoria Dahlia Society Show – Winners List

    Seedling Judging – A Good Time Had By All!!

    One of the many great things about our society is the opportunity to learn pretty much whatever you care to about dahlias; from how they are grown to how to show them and judge them! Many thanks to Connie Young-Davis for hosting this event and providing a delicious dinner afterwards!!!

    Seedling judging 2013 001 Seedling judging 2013 001 Seedling judging 2013 002 Seedling judging 2013 004

    Enter your blooms in our Show!!!

    Dahlia blooms may be brought to Westshore Mall on Friday, August 16th from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and Saturday August 17th from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. Please use the exhibitor’s entrance shown on this map:

    Pest Control Strategies

    Many thanks to Judith for her excellent presentation on pest control at our last general meeting! For those who weren’t able to attend or would like a recap, here is the information:

    Pest Control Strategies

    The “big” growers in our club have offered some ideas as to how they manage the pest problem with dahlias.   Some other ideas have been gleaned from the Internet, with website addresses given where you might want to check out a Youtube video or read for more detailed information.  Happy hunting!


    Barry: use 2 ½ inch plastic pots and paper napkins from Costco – check every 2 days

    Cathy: earwig traps

    Internet: containers with narrow slits near base, filled with a little oil – they crawl in and drown.  Refill with oil as needed  (google “how to make an earwig trap – chemical free” –

    Internet: another oil idea – use shallow tin cans (tuna, cat food, etc) and fill with ½ inch of oil – place a ground level

    Internet: rolled up, dampened newspaper laid in beds – shake out in the morning into soapy water (or a short length of hose); fill a flowerpot with crumpled, dampened newspaper – place upside down on ground, propped up with a stick; bait a container with pencil-size holes in sides with oatmeal or bran; beer baits – jars on sides (might get slugs with one too!) – google “natural earwig control”


    Barry: no sprays but hand squeezing on a daily basis when seen

    Cathy: Safer’s Trounce (on contact only so no residue to harm beneficial insects)

    Ryan: Safer’s Soap (but watch out for residue affecting blooms and leaves)

    Internet: hand crush (sends out warning to other aphids); snip off affected section; encourage or purchase ladybugs and lacewings; plant mint, fennel, dill, yarrow, cosmos, larkspur, asters, zinnias, nasturtiums to attract aphids to those plants; plant garlic and onions near dahlias – aphids don’t like the smell; use a homemade garlic spray on aphids. Mix crushed garlic and water together, allowing the water to become infused with the scent of garlic. This smell acts as a deterrent against aphids, driving them away; create a home remedy to protect your plants against aphids. Mix together 1 cup of vegetable or white mineral oil with 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of bleach-free dish soap. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz it on infected plants to suffocate the aphids. Keep the treated plants out of direct sunlight, however, since the spray could magnify the light and burn the leaves. Google “how to control aphids” –

    Internet: 1. Water, water, and more water.  Blast aphids off of the plants with a strong spray of water. Nothing is more eco-friendly than water! As aphids are attracted to the color yellow, a bright yellow pan one-quarter full with water will draw aphids, who will then land on the water mistaking it for a plant, sink, and drown.

    2. Pruning – Isolate the problem area.  Often this is an excellent solution, as the females of many aphid species produce live young during the summer, without a mate. Aphid populations can “explode” in this way, making the sacrifice of a few infested plants a strong, immediate, and eco-friendly action that protects the rest of your crop.

    3. Nitrogen fertilizer.  Reduce your use of fertilizer heavy in nitrogen; high levels of nitrogen helps aphids reproduce. An alternative is to spread out application of nitrogen instead of applying it all at once.

    4. Natural pesticide: diatomaceous earth.  Diatomaceous earth (DE) appears as a fine talcum powder, and is made of miniscule fossilized water plants. DE is lethal to aphids and many other types of common pests, including fleas, ticks, flies, cockroaches, ants, mites, and earwigs. A regular dusting with natural DE (not crystalline DE available at pool supply stores, which can be dangerous to humans and pets) with keep your garden, backyard, and even living room pleasantly insect-free.


    Paul: At planting time, use Corry’s Slug Bait (no problem for his cat)

    Barry:  Corry’s at planting; slug hunting at night which are then dumped into salt water and dumped next morning

    Cathy: Safer’s Slug bait at planting and later if necessary

    Ryan: resident frogs at Mill Bay plot! 

    Judith: copper mesh over plastic collars (juice bottles, etc) at planting time (can remove collars or leave in place (use Coke or vinegar to remove tarnish)

    Internet: newspaper soaked in sugared water and placed under boards attracts more than just plain damp paper; instead of beer in bait cups, use ½ tsp yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp flour, 1 cup water.  Google “controlling slugs organically”

    Internet: Iron phosphate containing slug baits – pet safe, last 2 weeks or more, act as fertilizer if not consumed (ex: Sluggo); grapefruit and orange halves (melon rinds also work) – discard slugs in salted water; use deep bait cups for beer or yeast mixes (yogurt containers buried to rim); dry cat or dog food placed under an overturned foil pan with “doors” cut in for slugs to enter – scoop and discard slugs in morning; copper banding or wire – gives them a slight shock – must be high/wide enough that big ones cannot just bridge over it; spray slugs with vinegar and water mix, or 1 part ammonia to 4 parts water with a bit of liquid soap (avoid salt – it will damage soil); 2 TBSP cornmeal in jars placed on their sides – desiccates the slugs! Google “how to kill snails and slugs” –

    Internet: avoid watering in the evening when slugs come out – water in the morning and soil surface will be dry by nightfall; use seaweed as a mulch (dried is best); coffee grounds as mulch.  Google “natural slug control” –

    Deer and other four-legged critters:

    Paul: totally lined property with nine foot high hedges (I wish for this!)

    Barry: high fence for deer; rabbits present a small problem at start but once plants are larger there is little damage from them

    Judith: “Wireless Deer Fence” – – these can be moved around in the garden to surprise the deer; Bobbex on hostas, roses seems to discourage deer from coming into garden (try giant Q-tips with Bobbex!)


    Barry: try to keep spraying to a minimum but if mildew shows up early, spray all plants near affected ones

    Cathy: keep good air flow by removing bottom leaves and those from inside the plants.  Use foliar fertilizer to heighten resistance within leaves themselves.  Remove mildewed leaves immediately and wash hands before touching any other plants.

    Internet: Homemade Sprays
Research studies in 1999 and 2003 on infected zucchini and winter wheat (respectively) indicated that spraying cow’s milk slowed the spread of the disease.  To try this at home, mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray the stems and tops of leaves with the solution. Reapply after rain. 

    Spraying leaves with baking soda (1 teaspoon in 1 quart water) raises the pH, creating an inhospitable environment for powdery mildew.

    More on using milk (explains why it works & recommends ratios)


    Cathy: (yellow vein lines can indicate virus) – use clean shears/scissors for each plant when cutting flowers or cleaning up – 70% alcohol solution to “sterilize” between plants.  When deadheading, just take off the flower heads by hand and then go back and cut stems with “sterilized” scissors.  Chuck any unhealthy looking plants (NOT composted).  Maybe try Epsom salts to see if a missing nutrient might be at root of discolouration before discarding.

    2013 Show Catalogue Now Ready!

    The catalogue for our 67th Annual Show is now ready! Find out what you need to know about entering your blooms into our Show! We strongly encourage anyone growing dahlias to think about entering our Show. You don’t have to be a member to do so! Have a look through our catalogue. I’m a novice grower and I will need some friendly competition in that category! 😀

    2013 Dahlia Show Catalogue

    Thank you to everyone who came to our sale and bought tubers!

    Thank you for supporting our club and for adding beauty to our city this summer by buying and growing dahlias!  We wish you a happy growing season and if you have any questions about how to care for and grow your dahlias, please don’t hesitate to come to one of our meetings (first Thursday of every month, 2800 Blanshard St at 7:30pm; see our ‘Calendar’ link for more details) or email us at:

    We hope you will submit some of your best blooms for our show coming up in August! Mark your calendars for August 17th and 18th!

    Tuber Sale Coming Up Soon!

    Our tuber sale is happening soon! Save these dates:

    April 27, 2013– VDS Plant & Tuber Sale Day 1

    10:00am to 4:00pm at Knox Presbyterian Church, 2964 Richmond Rd, Victoria map

    April 28, 2013 – VDS Plant & Tuber Sale Day

    11:00am – 4pm (or until sold out) at the Westshore Town Centre in Langford map




    2013 Dahlia Show

    Preparations are underway for our 2013 Dahlia Show! Our Dahlia Show dates:


    August 17th 2013 (Saturday)  9:30 am – 5:30 pm

    August 18th 2013 (Sunday)  10:00 am – 5:00 pm


    Westshore Town Centre

    2945 Jacklin Road

    Victoria, B.C.  V9B 5E3


    Contact for information:  Teresa Thom –


    Starting Dahlias From Seed – March 2013 Meeting

    This year, for fun, we are encouraging our members to grow dahlias from seed to see what flowers they might get. In September, we will have an informal flower show where members can show off their favourite blooms (judging will be by popular choice, ie what people like just by looking, and not by ADS judging standards.) Members will vote for their favourite bloom and one will be awarded “The People’s Choice”!

    But before all that, we will need to get our seeds growing! Let’s start with soil. Many people make their own soil combinations and they can contain perlite, vermiculite, washed sand, spaghnum moss, peat moss, in addition to potting soil. Different combinations of these (and maybe other additions not listed here) can be created depending on what you like to grow. For starting dahlia seeds, a combination of peat,  perlite and vermiculite is recommended and the process is not unlike starting vegetables indoors.

    Fill your seed starter pots with your potting mix. Pour boiling water slowly over the mix (be careful of steam!) and let sit 10-15 minutes to cool. What the boiling water does is to help kill off any molds or fungus that create “damping off”. You don’t want to lose any seedlings to damping off. You could also use something like “Damp-Aid” to protect your seeds, and you can make something similar out of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. All you need to do is dust your seeds with it before planting.

    Plant your seeds! I’m a fan of what is unglamorously called, “The Plastic Baggie Method”: put your pots in a plastic bag. Yep, it’s that simple. The small Ziplock Freezer bags work perfectly for my 2.5″ square pots, but use whatever size will cover your pots. Now you will need light and warmth. You could place your sealed baggie in a warm, sunny window or under grow lights; either way is fine. Check on them every so often to see if any have sprouted.

    Once your seeds have sprouted, leave them in the plastic bag until there are at least two sets of “true” leaves, and then remove the plastic bag. Keep seedlings out of direct sun but in bright light at first, and keep well-watered (but not soggy).  Pot them up as needed.

    When it is time to plant your baby dahlias in the garden, or outdoor containers, first harden them off for a few days by gradually exposing them to cooler outdoor temperatures. The best type of day to plant seedlings is an overcast or rainy day, towards the end of the day. This helps the dahlia seedling to cope with the shock of being planted without having the sun beating down on it as well.

    And that is it! Easy. I’m really looking forward to the informal show in September to see what people will have and what the variety of blooms will be like.

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