Most of us don’t have room to overwinter plants indoors, but there are other ways to save geraniums, tuberous begonias, dahlias and gladiolus for next year. With just a little bit of effort, you’ll have your favorite plant again next spring, and as an added bonus, you’ll save some money. Use insulating material like sand, peat moss, vermiculite or sawdust. in a cardboard box or an old cooler and you’re set to go. Here are a few ways to prepare plants for winter storage.
- Dig before heavy frost. Remove dead leaves and damaged plant parts. Make sure the plant is insect free. Leave the soil around the root system. Prune away about half the top. Store in insulating material in a cool, dry spot.
- Dig plant and shake the soil from the root system. Hang the unpruned plant upside down in a cool, dry area.
- Dig up the plant before frost and remove the soil from the root system. Prune to fit into a brown paper bag. Store them in a cool, dry place for the winter.
- Lift plants before hard frost.
- Leave the soil and roots intact and cut back most of the top.
- Put aside in a dry, cool area for several weeks to cure then remove the soil, roots and the remainder of the stalk.
- If the stalk is left it may rot, killing the entire tuber. Store in insulating material in a cool, dark, dry spot. Replant in spring.
Dahlias and Cannas:
- Dig plants after the first frost. Remove the top of the plant leaving about 4 inches of the stem attached to the clump of tubers. Wash off the dirt and remove damaged parts. Put this clump in a sunny area to dry, and then store one of two ways.
- Store the entire clump by placing in nearly dry peat or other insulating material. Divide into sections next spring and replant.
- Divide the clump this fall, after drying, by cutting into sections. Each section should contain a tuber and a vegetative bud. Store each section separately as listed above. This method takes up less space but the tubers tend to shrivel more readily when separated for storage.
- Lift corms about the middle of October when the tops begin to yellow and die.
- Cut back the top to about three inches and place in a sunny spot to dry. The new corm is between the stem and the old corm on the bottom. Usually, the cormels, or the baby corms, that you find around the edge of the old corm are discarded and only the new larger corm is planted next spring.
- Store the new corms in dry insulating material.
- Replant in spring.
Check your stored bulbs periodically during winter for signs of decay. Toss any bad bulbs to prevent spreading disease. If tubers begin to shrivel mist them lightly to rehydrate. Replant outside after all danger of frost has passed.