How to store your frost sensitive bulbs

How to store your frost sensitive bulbs

As winter approaches, gardeners need to shift their focus from tending to vibrant blooms to safeguarding the precious bulbs that promise a colorful resurgence come spring. Proper storage is the key to ensuring the health and vitality of your dahlia tubers, gladioli, and canna lilies during the chilly winter months. In this guide, we'll delve into the best practices for storing these bulbs, ensuring a stunning display when the gardening season returns.

There is a wonderful coincidence that lifting summer flowering bulbs ties in with planting tulips and other spring flowering bulbs

Likewise, when it’s time to lift tulips is a great time to plant your potted dahlia tubers

Harvesting Dahlia Tubers:

Before storing dahlia tubers, it's essential pick the right moment.

  • Wait until the first frost has blackened the foliage.
  • Carefully dig around the tuber clumps being cautious not to damage the delicate structures.
  • Gently remove excess soil, allowing the tubers to dry for a day or two.

Cleaning and Curing:

  • Cleanliness is crucial when it comes to bulb storage.
  • Trim any remaining foliage from the dahlia tubers
  • inspect them for signs of disease or damage.
  • Allow the tubers to cure in a cool, dry place for about a week. This process allows the tubers to form a protective layer, reducing the risk of rot during storage.

Choosing the Right Storage Medium:

For both dahlia tubers and canna lilies, vermiculite or straw make excellent storage mediums. Place the cured tubers in a box or crate, surrounded by the chosen medium. Ensure they are well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup.

Temperature Matters:

Consistent cool temperatures are essential for successful storage. Aim for a temperature range of 4-10°C. Too warm, and the bulbs may sprout prematurely; too cold, and they might suffer frost damage. Consider storing them in a basement or an unheated garage.

Lifting Gladioli Corms:

Gladioli corms require a slightly different approach. After the first frost, carefully dig up the corms, allowing them to dry in a shaded, well-ventilated area for about two weeks. Once dried, remove any remaining soil and inspect for damage or signs of disease. 

You may find lots of small bulblets growing from the base of the corm. They will in time develop into larger bulbs but it is often a long process and it is easier to top up your collection with cultivated bulbs. 

Storing Gladioli Corms:

Gladioli corms prefer a dry environment. Store them in mesh bags or open containers, allowing for proper air circulation. Like dahlia tubers, keep them in a cool, dark place to prevent premature sprouting.

Overwintering Canna Lilies:

Canna lilies are a bit hardier to keep, but proper storage is still crucial. After the first frost, cut back the foliage and carefully dig up the rhizomes. Allow them to dry for a few days, and then store them in a container filled with straw or vermiculite. Keep the container in a cool, dry place, ensuring good ventilation. Periodically check the rhizome for signs of damage or rot. 

You can also pot them in small pots and keep in a greenhouse.

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