One of my favorite tender summer bulbs is caladiums (actually tubers), but I’ve had mixed results keeping them from one year to the next.
One of my favorite tender summer bulbs is caladiums (actually tubers), but I’ve had mixed results keeping them from one year to the next.

Now that most of have experienced the first frost of the season, we’re down to the wire on certain garden chores. As a  self-professed procrastinator extraordinaire, I’ve not yet dug my tender bulbs. My rationale is that it doesn’t matter what’s above the ground at this point. The bulbs are still protected by being in the ground.

I suppose that means I could wait a little longer to dig them and bring them in, but I don’t like being cold and waiting longer means it’s going to be cold. In my case, I only have one group of bulbs that I need to dig, so by the time you read this, I should have that task completed.

If you want amaryllis blooms by Thanksgiving or Christmas, you should think about buying them now and getting those potted up. I keep mine from year to year and grow them in the ground outside during the summer, but they aren’t hardy, so they have to come in. I won’t pot them up right away though, so I won’t have blooms until the last part of winter. They’ll bloom at a time when I’m totally done with the snow and gloom and cold, and I’m craving color.

I’ll cut the top foliage off, pull them out of the ground and rub the soil off. I won’t wash them off, but I’ll let them dry a day or so and then store them in my dark, cool basement until I’m ready to pot them.

I’m told you should actually wait until we have a light frost to dig up the cannas. My dad had a canna bed at the house where I grew up that he planted year after year. He stored those tubers under the house in the crawlspace. Cannas are hardy to Zone 7, so the warmth of the house kept them just warm enough not to freeze there.

Trim the canna foliage to 2-3 inches, rub or wash the soil from the tubers, then allow them to dry or “cure” for a couple of days. This helps prevent rot over the winter. Then wrap them in newspaper or store in paper bags with dry peat moss, sawdust or vermiculite. Each tuber should be stored separately.

Dahlias aren’t hardy for us either (unless you have a warm microclimate for grow-ing them) and the storage method for dahlia tubers is much the same as it is for most bulbs. With dahlias, care should be taken while digging them, not to separate the “fingers” that form off the main bulb during the summer.

Allow the dahlia tubers to dry for a couple of days and then store them in dry sand, vermiculite, sawdust, or peat moss. Keep them in a cool, dry location, such as a garage or basement. You’ll want to check on them during the winter to make sure they haven’t started to mold or rot because of moisture. If they seem to be shriveling because they’re too dry, you can mist them and then al-low them to dry again before continuing to store.

I used to dig up my gladiolus corms, but one winter I didn’t get around to it. The next summer, they surprised me by growing and bloom-ing. Most glads are hardier than we’ve been led to believe. If you have any special ones, you might want to go ahead and dig and store them for the winter just to be safe. Otherwise try leaving them in the ground to see if you really need to dig them or not.

Most years, I grow caladiums. I’ve tried storing them from year to year, because they’re relatively expensive and they definitely aren’t hardy. The method for storing them is the same as the dahlias, but I’ve had mixed results being able to keep them over the winter. I often end up with some small tubers, but I only keep the larger ones as they seem to do better at surviving.

If your bulbs are planted in containers, you can try leaving them in the containers over the winter, and storing them where they won’t freeze. You’ll want to keep them dry though, same as you do with dug bulbs.

Read more at Kylee's blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com.

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