The Q&A Archives: Lily rhizomes rotting over winter

Question: I raise canna lilies every year, but I think I'm losing too many rhizomes in storage. In fall I dig them before frost and store them in a dry, cool (40oF) basement in slatted crates lined with newspaper and filled with slightly moistened vermiculite. Every spring, though, many have rotted. What am I doing wrong? C.I. Barker Glendale, MO

Answer: The solution is simple. Turn the rhizomes upside down when placing them in storage, says Patrick Malcolm, owner of TyTy Plantation and grower of 75 varieties of cannas in TyTy, George. The buds for the following year's growth tend to be on the uppersurface of the rhizome. By turning the rhizomes upside down, growth hormones that keep the buds viable gravitate and settle in the buds during winter storage, he explains.

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