Dig Up and Store Your Tender Bulbs

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  • Frost is just around the corner and if you grow tender bulbs such as begonias, caladiums, dahlias, gladiolus, or other bulbs in containers that don’t survive frost in your area, now is the time to dig up and store your tender bulbs. For the price of these bulbs, they are definitely worth saving. Follow the instructions below, and next spring you’ll be able to plant a plethora of containers with beautiful summer blooming bulbs at no cost to you.

    how to store tender bulbs

    Photo: istockphoto.com

    If your bulbs are still blooming, don’t feel you have to dig them up immediately. You can wait until after the first frost and the leaves are brown before you lift them from the ground.

    Take care when digging up your bulbs not to cut into them. If a bulb is cut, discard it as it will most likely rot and not survive winter storage. Remove excess soil before you store them. If the soil is stubbornly clinging to the bulb, leave them in the sun for a day to make the soil easier to remove. If you bulbs need to be divided, it can be done now or later on in the spring.

    how to store tender bulbs

    Photo: Creative Commons

    Bulbs should be stored in a container that breathes such as wood or a cardboard box. If you store them in plastic, they are apt to rot because of fungus or mold developing in the plastic container since it is non-porous and the moisture can’t evaporate. Store your bulbs in peat moss or sawdust. They can also be stored in sand. You want your storage medium to be just moist. Too wet and your bulbs will rot, too dry and your bulbs will shrivel right up.

    Lay the bulbs on the medium in a single layer. Cover your bulbs with a thin layer of medium. Do not cover the container. Store the open container in a cool dark location in basement or garage. Be sure the storage area is dry as dampness would encourage rot and ruin your bulbs. Check the bulbs throughout the winter to keep the moisture level even.

    If you prefer, you can leave the entire planting in the containers, and winter them over in a cold but not freezing area. When their normal blooming season comes around, bring them gradually into the light, water and feed them and set them out in your garden area.

    Caladiums and begonias can be removed from the pot and stored as above. They can also be brought into the house and kept as house plants throughout the winter months.

    Source: Container Gardening Month by Month by Gloria Daniels



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