Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Care for tender bulbs in the fall.

How to dig and store cannas and other summer bulbs.


One of the tasks in preparation for fall is to dig and store tender bulbs. Cannas, gladioli, begonia, dahlia bulbs, rhizomes and corms will not survive the winter in the ground.

When the leaves start to turn brown or the foliage is killed off by first frost, it’s time to dig and store tender bulbs. Raise your bulbs with a spading fork, digging carefully to avoid damage. Most bulbs will have grown over the summer. Cut the remaining foliage back to about 2"-3".  Rinse them off and let dry in a shady spot. After bulbs dry, dust with sulfur.
Sulfur will help ward off diseases and insects. Bulbs can be stored in cardboard boxes or paper bag containers layered with peat moss, vermiculite or coir.
Select a storage spot that is cool, between 45º and 50º. Some bulbs will store at temperatures up to 60°, but cooler is better.
The packing material will help stabilize the temperature.  Remember to label bulbs and tubers going into storage.
Write directly on the bulb with a felt maker or use plant labels. Bulbs and tubers need attention during storage, so check on them every week or so. Make sure they don’t dry out and keep an eye out for damage or disease that may show up in storage. Mist the packing material to keep moisture levels up and to prevent bulbs from drying out.  If bulbs start to shrivel or wrinkle, soak them in water for a few minutes and re-moisten the packing material. In spring, divide rhizomes. Remove any dead areas and make sure each division has at least one growing point or “eye”.  


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