The Q&A Archives: Caladium and Heliconia

Question: I currently have the tropical plants Thai Beauty Caladium and Heliconia psittacorum 'Andromeda' in pots on my terrace. I live in NYC. The weather will be turning cold soon. How do I prepare them for winter? Do I leave planted and bring the pots indoors? Or, do I dig up the bulbs, let dry, and store in a plastic bag over the fall/winter seasons?

Answer: The caladiums will die back at the first hint of frost and once this happens you should trim off the foliage and bring indoors. You can store as is in the container or unpot, shake off the soil, air dry for about a week (at room temperature) then place in a paper bag or cardboard box with some dry shavings or dry vermiculite or similar material. Pack so they do not touch. The storage temperature should be cool, between 50 and 60 degrees. Do not store them in a plastic bag, they need to breathe.

The Heliconia should do well enough as a houseplant but you will need to bring it indoors before the weather begins to turn cold. Keep it at a minimum temperature of 60 degrees with bright light. Next spring, when temperatures have moderated, gradually acclimate it to being outdoors again.

Good luck with your plants!

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