250 News - Your News, Your Views, Now

October 28, 2017 2:39 am

Saving those flowering bulbs

Saturday, September 5, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

If you want to save your summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlias, Tuberous begonias, Calla and Canna lilies, and gladiolas for next year, you will have to dug them up and store them indoors over the winter months. These bulbs are not hardy enough to stay in the ground outdoors over the winter and survive. They should be dug up once the foliage has been affected by frost.

Once the dahlias foliage has been touched by frost, the foliage should be cut back to within 15 cm from ground level. Dig out the dahlia tuber by first loosening the soil around the tuber using a garden fork and then gently lifting the tuber from the soil. Remove excess soil from the tuber and then place the tuber upside down with foliage end facing up, so that moisture can drain out of the stem. Place it in a dry, airy, frost-free area for 2-3 weeks and when it has dried, store it in a cool (above freezing) dry space for the winter. Check the tuber every few weeks for rot, and if you see any bad spots, cut if off the tuber to prevent it from spreading.

Canna lilies should have the foliage cut back to 12-18 cm from ground level, after it has been touched by frost, and then the rhizome is dug up. After it has been dug up, air dry the rhizome for a few days, before storing it in moist sand, vermiculite or peat moss. Store it in a cool (above freezing) dark place throughout the winter. Check the rhizomes periodically to make sure that the medium they are stored in remains slightly moist, and if it is dry add a little water to moisten it.

Calla lily rhizomes have to stay in the soil to harden off before they are dug up. To harden the rhizome off, allow the plant to finish blooming and then cut back on the water, allowing the plant to go dormant. When the foliage has yellowed, it is ready to be dug up. After it has been dug up, remove access soil from the rhizome and place it in an area where temperature is 18-20 C (room temperature) for 7-10 days to harden the outer shell. After it has hardened store the rhizome in a paper bag in a cool (5-10C) area making sure that rhizomes are not touching each other.

Tuberous begonias are carefully dug up and placed on newspaper after the foliage has been killed by a frost. Place them in a cool location for a couple of weeks, and then cut back the stems to within 10-15 cm from the tuber. Holding the foliage, gently shake off any excess soil from the tuber. After a few weeks the remaining foliage will dry off the tuber which is when the tuber is ready to be stored in a container filled with either vermiculite, or dry sand. Store the container in a dry, dark space where the temperatures is 6-10 Celsius. They can be re-planted in February.

Gladiolas need to have all the finished flowers removed before they form seed. After they have finished blooming dig up the bulb and cut the stem back to within 2-3 cm from the bulb. Sun dry the bulb for a few hours and then store it in a cool (frost free) space for a few weeks. After the few weeks, separate the old bulb from the new bulb and toss out the old bulb. Store the new bulb in a dry warm place.

It is always a good idea to label all your bulbs with variety name, size and colour before putting them in storage, as this will make it easier next spring when it is time to re-plant them again.


 Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:

  • Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
  • Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road


Comments for this article are closed.