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Saving Tubors and Bulbs Over Winter

By Jos Van Hage

Saturday, October 21, 2006 03:45 AM

Most areas in Prince George have been touched by a killing frost and so now this is the time of year when any tender bulbs are brought indoors if you want to save them for next year. Bulbs such as tuberous begonias, dahlias, cannas, and gladiolus can be dug up and stored indoors and re-planted for next season. It can be done very successfully if a few simple steps are followed.

To keep dahlias from one year to the next you cut back the stems to 6 inches above the ground once they have been blackened by frost. Then you loosen the soil around the tuber with a fork and carefully dig up the tuber making sure that you do not damage the tuber. Gently shake off any excess soil from the tuber and then place the tuber upside down in a dry airy frost-free space so that any extra moisture can drain from the neck of the tuber. After a couple of weeks or when the neck of the dahlia tuber is very dry you dust the bulb with bulb dust which will prevent any fungus or insects from damaging the tuber and then put the tuber in vermiculite, peat moss, or dry sand where it will be stored for the winter. It is a good to check the tuber every few weeks for rot and if there is any rot cut off the rotten area and dust the area with sulfur before placing the healthy part of the tuber back into storage. Dahlia tubers are best divided in the spring before planting.

Cannas are stored in the same manner as dahlia tubers. Gladiolus is stored a little differently. When the foliage begins to turn brown or black from the frost you cut the top off to within an inch from the corm (bulb). Put the corms in a cool, dry, well ventilated place for a couple of weeks until the corm is dry. When the corm is dry break away any of the shriveled corms or any small cormels that surround the new corm.  You can either throw out the small cormels or save them for re-planting next year but keep in mind that they will not produce a flower for 2-3 years. If you decide to save them plant them in the back of the garden in  the spring and dig them up each fall and after 2-3 years they will big enough to produce a flower which is when you plant them in an area where they can be seen. The large corms that were dug up should be examined closely for damage and only the healthy corms should be saved. Gladiolus is prone to thrips and so the corms should be dusted with bulb dust to help prevent this problem. Store corms in a dark room where it is warm and  dry.

Tuberous begonias are stored by carefully digging up the tuber after the foliage has been blackened by frost and then placing the tuber in a cool location for a couple of weeks. Then cut back the stems to 6 inches from the tuber and carefully shake off as much of the soil as possible. After a few more weeks the remaining stem will dry up and fall off which is when the tuber is dusted with bulb dust and placed in a vermiculite or dry sand filled container. Put the closed container in a dark area where the temperature is 6-10 Celsius.

When storing bulbs always remember to label bulb with name, color and  height so that next spring you will know what you have. 


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

  • Highway 16 West,
  • Highway 97 North at Aberdeen

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