What do we do with all of our summer flowering bulbs during the winter months, if they are not hardy enough to stay in the ground? It is simple, we bring them into our basement for the winter, and this is how you will prepare them to keep them healthy.
First, wait for a killing frost in your garden and your bulb plants die and turn BLACK. Next cut them down to the ground and dig them up. Shake as much of the soil off the bulbs as possible but do not wash them. Bring the bulbs into your garage or tool shed for a few days until the soil on them has dried completely. Once you have dug them up, do not leave them outside or any additional frost will kill the bulb by freezing it.
Second, you will want to buy a general purpose Rose and Flower Garden Dust and dust all parts of the bulb before storing. This dusting of the bulbs will help to keep them protected from any over wintering disease and insects.
Glad’s are easy, just look at the bulb closely and you will see that there are 2 bulbs piggy backing together. The top bulb is the one to keep and the bulb on the bottom was the original bulb that you planted and which has now transferred all of its energy to the new bulb on the top-it must be discarded. Dust the good bulbs and store them in a pair of old panty hose that you can hang from a convenient rafter in the basement. The panty hose will breathe well and keep the bulbs healthy until you plant them again in the spring.
Dahlia bulbs will look like a clump of potatoes and should not be divided until you are ready to plant them in the spring. Dust the bulbs and store them in boxes on the floor or crawl space where the temperature stays around 50 degrees. Place one inch of peat moss or compost in the box and set bulbs on that medium being sure that bulb clusters do not touch each other. Cover the bulbs with 2 inches of organic material and then cover with newspaper, never with plastic because the bulbs will sweat and rotting will occur.
Tuberous Begonias and Callas should be carefully cleaned and checked for soft spots. Dust them well, store in a box of peat moss or compost, and cover with newspaper in a cool spot in the basement.
Canna Lilies store best if put in containers filled with peat moss or compost standing up like it grows in your garden. Again, dust and place in organic matter in a cool spot as far away from the furnace or heat source as possible and do not water until you are ready to start growing them in March indoors or directly into the garden in early May.
Elephant Ears should be dug out and cleaned of any leaf stems, dust and store in a pot filled with peat or compost and place on the floor covered with newspaper. Make sure the bulb is completely dry before storing. Re-pot in soil during March for a jump start on the season.
Freesia, ranunculus and anemone should be cleaned of any stems and dried well in the basement before storage. This will take longer than the other bulbs to dry and harden. Ranunculus will look like a mini bunch of bananas about 1 inch long. Freesia and anemone look like a bunch of dried raisins and are hard. These three can be stored in a small box on the floor with a bit of peat or compost mixed around them to keep them apart and from touching each other. Dust them by placing them in a small paper bag with dust and gently shaking the bag. These three bulbs can be forced into growing indoors right after the first of the year by potting them and growing on the window sill. Flowers will form in April and May if they are potted, or you can wait and plant them in the ground in May for summer color in the garden.
(November 2016 Horticultural Newsletter)
Paul Parent October 27, 2016 Newsletter