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.
When there only a few clumps to be stored, Mr. Faust suggests keeping them in boxes of dry sand. When the number is large, however, they are more easily handled when stored in peatmoss. He always advises dusting any injured portions with sulfur to prevent rot.
Although some dahlia growers complain of their tubers shriveling during winter storage, Mr. Faust says that if the plants are well fertilized and grown right the tubers will never shrivel. He inspects his clumps several times during the winter, not for shriveling, but for any signs of stem rot. If he finds any, the rotted portion is cut away and the clump is dusted with sulfur again and returned to the peatmoss.
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