Storing Bulbs for Winter

canna garden

Canna Lily, Elephant Ear and Gladiolas are examples of plants you can overwinter. Since we have had a couple of good frosts here in the Miami Valley, it is time to prepare our tubers, roots and corms for winter storage. These types of plants can have problems surviving a deep freeze.

dividing cannasNow is a good time to divide these plants. You can break them apart with your hands or use a sharp butcher knife to make clean cuts. Keep one to three starts in each clump, depending on their size. There are a couple of different ways to prepare these plants for winter storage: dried or in containers.

  • Storing dried greatly reduces the chance of rot. Dig up your tubers, shake off the garden soil and store them in a crate of sawdust or peat moss in a cool area where they will not freeze, such as an unheated garage or basement.
  • If your plants were in containers, you can leave them in the pots. They will root out over the winter making them stronger for spring. Keep the soil slightly moist but do not overwater. Keep them cool but protect from freezing. An unheated garage or basement works well.

Beginning in mid- April, when temperatures are mild, you can put the plants outside. Remember to protect them from being exposed to a hard freeze.

Another group of bulbs that needs winter storage are the spring blooming ones. These are best protected by a blanket of soil that will stay cold over the winter – in other words, planted in the ground. There is still time to get them put in before the ground freezes.

By spending a little time now, you can enjoy a jump on next season with plants you grew. Then concentrate your spring purchases on new varieties!