Winter Storage of Tender Bulbs

Saving bulbs and tubers of tender plants is a winning idea. You will save money and time if you dig and store the bulbs of tender plants in the fall. Next spring bring them out of storage for replanting in the garden. If you are anxious and want to get started before spring’s last frost date, try starting a few bulbs in pots indoors. Replanting is the surest way to recreate your favorite garden designs. Following a few simple steps, you can grow tropical and subtropical tuberous plants regardless of your zone. Thinking of them as “reusable vs. throw-away” might help with the decision of planting more or trying new species and cultivars.

By following these basic steps, you are able to store caladium, canna, colocasia, dahlia, gladiolas and tuberous begonias. The main difference between plant types is the temperatures at which their bulb, corm or tuber is stored. After the first frost has killed the top growth of canna, dahlia and gladiolas, cut back the stems and dig up the tubers. Caladiums, colocasia and tuberous begonias are the exception and should be dug before the frost. Rinse away any remaining soil. Now let the bulbs/tubers air dry for several days. Place them in net bags, shredded newspaper, saw dust or peat moss. Be sure to package different plant types separately and label each package.

The following list provides additional packing and recommended storage temperature by plant:

  • Caladium – onion sack or peat moss; 65F or warmer
  • Canna – Shredded newspaper or sawdust; at 45F to 60F
  • Colocasia – divide the tubers in fall and store in a frost free area.
  • Dahlia – Net, newspaper, peat or sawdust; at 35F to 40F
  • Gladiola – Net bags; at 35F to 40F degrees
  • Tuberous begonia – Peat moss or sawdust; at 50F degrees.

Be sure to check your stored bulbs/tubers every few weeks. Throw out any that do not look healthy.


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