Following the amazing dahlias at the Society’s big show in August our speaker this week was Irene Woods Secretary and president, from the Norfolk Dahlia Society talking about growing and showing dahlias.
Irene started by advising on how to store dahlias after lifting from the ground. They should be left upside down for a few days in order to drain out all the excess water otherwise they will rot. She then places them inside a greenhouse and covers with hessian sacks but they can be placed in boxes in a frost free place labelled and covered with old compost. About January time they are placed on a propagating bench with heated cables. on sand to start them into growing. Shoots are taken as cuttings which are dipped in rooting gel with the bottom leaves removed and put in pots of 3/4 compost/ 1/4 grit.When they have developed roots they are potted on into 3” pots moving up a pot size as they grow. They are planted out after all danger of frost has passed into soil enriched with compost or manure as dahlias are very greedy feeders. So all show plants are grown from cuttings not the tubers , this is in order to keep the plant with a minimum of 6 shoots. All side shoots are nipped out so growth is concentrated into the main flowering bud.
The judging of dahlias apart from their perfect blooms is classified by their size, fitting into measuring rings, so a miniature would fit into a small ring etc although a miniature doesn’t look like we would expect it to being much larger. In order to transport dahlias to a show they are supported by canes firmly tied to the stem and individually put into closely packed lemonade bottles.
At the show they are then arranged according to the Schedule making them look as attractive as possible. After the local shows the dahlias are given to the public for a small donation towards the society.
Irene went on to show us some of the wonderful dahlias with beautiful colours. She doesn’t like pom poms as the sepals have to be removed in order for the petals to meet round the back a very time consuming business.
A very informative evening enjoyed by all .