Digging up bulb for winter storage

Tue. Oct. 6, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Digging up bulbs for winter storage

Last week we were planting bulbs for Spring bloom, and yesterday talking about keeping those squirrels from digging them up. Today, however, I’m talking about us digging up bulbs for winter storage not munching!

Gladiolas, dahlias, cannas, begonias and elephant ears to name some! It’s important to wait until the foliage of these plants are showing that the show is over, the flowers are gone, the foliage is browning or toast.

My glads aren’t quite ready yet…

glad foliage 10-3-20
my big box store glads from 2019 are blooming beautiful for 2020

Just a heads up, according to the Farmers Almanac, with agreement from the National Weather Service, if you love the cold of winter, you’re going to love their long-range forecast for 2020/21. It’s calling for a cold winter with normal to below-normal temperatures in areas from the Great Lakes and Midwest with above-normal snowfall in Minnesota and the western Dakotas. Well, we’ll have to see!

First snowfall Fall 2019

In the meantime I hope you still have some Fall leaves to enjoy. The winds picked up last week and blew a lot of them off.

My Red maple 2020 9-25

But I digress, let’s dig up those tubers, bulbs, corms and such. It’s super easy. Cut foliage back, so that only a couple of inches remain above ground. I use a garden fork, and sink it into the soil around the bulbs, being careful not to accidentally sever them and then gently lift them out.

photo by NGB

Once you’ve dug the bulb up, shake the dirt off and set it aside. Once they’re all out of the ground, gently rinse the dirt off. EXCEPT GLADIOLAS – LEAVE THE DIRT ON THEM TILL THEY’VE DRIED

photo by NGB – dahlia bulbs

Then give them a good once over and check for rotten spots. If they’re small, you can cut them or throw them away. It’s the same with dahlias, cannas, gladiolas and other summer flowering bulbs. It’s important to dry them before storage.

Canna bulbs drying

More information on winter storage for bulbs from the University of MN Ext. And yet more from Wisconsin Master Gardeners

My elephant ear I’ve had since 2018…

Photo 10-3-20. Not ready to take it in just yet…
Nov. 2019 – elephant ear back into the basement

This thing is AMAZING…. it’s been neglected, tossed out and STILL keeps on going. Because I don’t have a place in the living space of my home, I will dig it out of the big pot above and transfer it to a small one and take it into the basement where it will be left alone… till next year!