Saturday, May 14, 2022

GardenDC Podcast Episode 104: Dahlias

In this episode, we talk with Rich Gibson, past president of the National Capital Dahlia Society, all about dahlias. The plant profile is on the Weigela and we share what's going on in the garden as well as some upcoming local gardening events.

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Show Notes: 1:03 Meet Rich Gibson, past president of the National Capital Dahlia Society, 1:42 Rich’s day job as a union organizer supports is volunteer dahlia society roles and gardening hobby. 2:20 Rich’s grandfather’s garden included two really big rows of dahlias. 2:56 Rich discovered the dahlia society in the Washington Post in 2008 and attended his first dahlia show. 3:31 Is the Mid-Atlantic US climate suitable for dahlias or hostile? Hint: they are from the high mountains in in Mexico. 4:12 How DO you pronounce dahlia correctly?!? 5:28 Rich talks about the difference in kinds of dahlias. 6:29 Dahlias are one of the most varied groups of plants, because of their genetic make-up – they are octoploid! 7:06 Annuals or perennials? Can dahlias be left in the ground in our region? 9:12 If you don’t regularly dig and divide them, “it can get messy after a couple of years.” 9:44 Rich shares the best time to stake your tubers. 10:28 Rich uses netting to support his growing dahlias - three layers of it! 13:03 “We say growing dahlias is a little bit like growing tomatoes, 13:47 Sustained wind for 12 to 24 hours that's brutal on a mature dahlia garden in late summer. 14:10 Rich explains why he is a no-till gardener. 15:17 Kathy swears by Takoma Park’s shredded leaf mulch (now her secret is out!). 16:56 The Mayan people used the large, hollow dahlia stocks to carry water. 17:47 The Spanish brought the dahlia to Europe thinking they would be a big hit as an edible plant! 18:45 Since they are edible, do deer eat them too? 19:17 What other creatures and pests might attack dahlias? 20:47 Dahlia viruses are being actively studied by the American Dahlia Society ( 22:30 Why smokers are NOT welcome in dahlia (or tomato!) gardens. 23:02 Proper tool sanitation is the most important way to fight plant diseases. 24:42 Rich describes how to best dig, divide, and store dahlia tubers. 26:04 Dahlias can also be grown from collected seeds for fun, because dahlias do not “come true” from seed. 27:07 Rich tells us what traits he is most interested in for his dahlia hybrids. 28:47 One of the dahlia forms is compared to Dr. Seuss' Lorax trees. 30:02 Dahlias are becoming more popular with the general gardening population! 31:24 When you cut a dahlia flower, two laterals come up in its place and they'll keep blooming until frost. 32:18 The new micro dahlias are gaining in popularity too. 33:20 ‘Black Beauty’ is a real popular dark red dahlia that puts out a lot of blooms, says Rich. 34:32 You should be cutting your dahlias daily or at least twice a week in late summer. 35:10 Alyssum and other annuals make good dahlia companions. 37:16 Good drainage is a must. 37:55 Rich tells us about a unique watering technique used by an Australian dahlia grower 39:02 Some of the upcoming dahlia shows in our region and how dahlias are judged. 41:07 The National Dahlia Show will be September 22-25 in Reston, VA ( 43:21 Rich shares his favorite dahlia flowers. 47:03 In general, dahlias are not trademarked or patented. 47:43 Kathy asks about the best places to buy dahlia tubers as she bought some that were not as labeled. 49:10 How to contact Rich. 50:29 Learn about the Weigela shrub in this week’s Plant Profile! 52:17 What’s new in the garden: an English-like spring brings English-like blooms 53:08 News in the gardening world: Shepherd Park Garden Tour ( and Potomac Rose Society gathering at the Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden ( 54:56 Let’s Make Art is perfect for crafty gardeners! 57:02 Check out “The Urban Garden: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City” by Teri Speight and Kathy

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If you liked this episode, you may also enjoy listening to:
GardenDC Podcast Episode 54: Flower Farming with Lisa Mason Ziegler
~ GardenDC Podcast Episode 19: Floral Design, Gardening by the Rules, and Black-eyed Susans

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Episode Credits:
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz


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