COL It's time to start digging up and storing gladiolus, cannas, dahlias and tuberous begonias.

You can dig them when they have yellowed and begun to die back,or wait till after the first heavy frost but before the soil freezes. You don't want to wait and dig when it's too difficult because the corms or rhizomes could be damaged.

Always label your bulbs clearly as you store them to avoid confusion in the spring. Makes notes of the location and anything you want to change next year. Also, don't cover your bulbs or seal them up in any way. You should store them in an open box, bag or tub with wood shaving, sand, peat or something similar.

Your basement should work for storage as long as you use the coolest part, as far away from the furnace or water heater as possible. Sheds or attached garages should only be used if the temperatures don't get below freezing inside.

Gladiolus should be cut to leave only about an inch of the stem. Store them at about 70 degrees for a month to dry the corms, then divide the bulbs and clean them up of debris, old stems, etc. Then let them sit at 70 degrees again for about a week, then store them uncovered at about 50 degrees. Glads should not be washed with water to remove soil.

Brushing away the soil gently is enough. Store them in a box or tub lined with peat or sand if you wish.


Dahlias should be cut back about 3 inches above the tuber. Clean up any damaged part of the roots, and place them upside down in the sun (on the porch or deck works well-away from neighborhood rodents) for a few hours.

When they're dry, store them at about 40 degrees in a box or tub covered lightly with peat or sand. Check occasionally during the winter. If they look like they are drying out, sprinkle them with a small amount of water. It's usually better to divide dahlias in the spring. Each part must have at least one bud attached to the tubers.

Tuberous begonia stems should be cut to 5 inches then dried at 70 degrees F for two or three weeks.

Once they're dry, remove dried matter and cover them with peat, perlite or sand. They should be stored at 40 to 50 degrees F. The basement works, but don't use a shed, garage or any place that might freeze.

Cannas should be cut so the stem is about 2 to 3 inches. Next dig up the rhizomes carefully, loosening the soil as you go so as to not cause damage. Remove any soil with a gentle spray of the hose. Dry the cannas in a shady, ventilated location, then store in a box or tub with peat or vermiculite at about 55 degrees.

Cannas can be divided as long as they have at least 3 eyes on each section. Simply break them by hand.

Elephant ears should also be dug because they are a tropical plant. Cut off the leaves but don't wash or remove the soil. Dig the tubers carefully and allow them to air dry in the shade for about 2 weeks or inside if it's too cold.

After they are dry you can remove the soil and dead leaves or stalks. Store them in peat moss in a shallow container. You don't want them to get too cold or moist-they need a dry, cool location for storage.


Drop me a line: Christine schlueter, 19276 Walden Ave. Hutchinson, MN 55350 or e-mail me at

What To Read Next
Get Local