It's time to dig tender bulbs for storing over winter.

Posted by Staff of goGardenNow on

Dahlia tubers


Winter will be here before you know it. If you have tender bulbs in the ground, you’d better dig them soon to store indoors. They won’t survive freezing temperatures.

What tender bulbs am I talking about? Tuberous begonias, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, elephant ears, gladiolus and such. (Obviously, I’m using the word “bulb” loosely, including corms, rhizomes, tubers, and tuberous roots.) You probably spent a pretty penny on some of them, so don’t let them freeze outdoors and turn to mush.

Basically, there are three things to keep in mind for storing them:

  1. Keep them nearly dry;
  2. Keep them cool;
  3. Keep them from freezing.

Here are some general steps to follow:
  • Lift them when the foliage has begun to die back;
  • Dig them carefully so you don’t damage the bulbs;
  • Remove accumulated soil, either by washing or brushing with a soft brush;
  • Spread the bulbs in a warm place;
  • Allow about a week for curing;
  • Pack them with sawdust or peat in boxes or mesh bags;
  • Store in a cool, dark place where they will not freeze;
  • Check them occasionally during winter, misting with water from a spray bottle if they begin to shrivel, and throwing out any that have begun to rot.

That’s about the extent of it. Though the process may be tweaked a little for different species, the basic steps remain the same.

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