If overwintering some of your plants, now is when you really need to pay attention to the weather because some of the plants need to be dug before a hard frost. It’s hard to do because usually, they are looking really nice.
Geraniums can be saved by shaking the dirt from the roots, putting them in paper bags and storing them in a cool dark area. Next spring, pot them, cut them back by half, fertilize and they will be beautiful again next summer. Another method is to store them with soil around the roots. Cut the plants back by about half and keep them in a cool, dry place and store them in insulation like peat moss or in their containers. If you have the room, geraniums can be overwintered as houseplants. If they’ve been in the ground, dig them up with as many roots as possible and pot them up in the smallest pot that will hold the root ball. Keep them where they will get bright light. Your geraniums may bloom most of the winter. You can also take cuttings from healthy plants. Next spring, after the last frost date, you can put your geraniums outside.
Tuberous begonias can be saved too. Lift the plants carefully before a hard frost and cut back most of the top. After curing in a dry, cool area for a few weeks, shake off the soil and remove the stalks and roots. If the stalk is left on it could begin to rot, causing the entire clump of tubers to rot, too. Store the tubers in a dark, dry, cool area for winter. In spring, place the tubers on planting medium and water well. Move outside when frost danger has passed.
Gladiolus are usually dug up for winter, particularly if they’re special. Lift the corms when the tops turn yellow and die. Cut them back to about 3 inches and place the corms where there is good air circulation. When dry, remove the old tops and throw them away. Store the new one in peat moss, sand or vermiculite. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place where they won’t freeze. Replant next spring when there is no longer any danger of frost.
Cannas and dahlias can be stored by digging the tubers and cutting back the tops. Leave several inches of the stem attached to the tuber clump. Wash off the dirt and dry the clump in the sun. At that point, store the whole clump of tubers or separate them and store them individually. If separating, each tuber must contain at least one eye. Use insulating material and store in a cool, dry place.
Don’t forget to check your summer bulbs from time to time throughout the winter and discard any that are beginning to decay. Just like the saying one bad apple spoils the lot, a diseased bulb is the same.
Storing your bulbs is a good way to save some money next spring and a good way to save plants that have sentimental value. Why not give it a try?