The Q&A Archives: Bulb Care

Question: Earlier in the summer I dug up my daffodil bulbs and more recently I dug up bulbs from my gladiola. I also have some giant canna lillies which I believe do not have bulbs. My question is should I have dug up the bulbs? If so how do I store them and when should they be replanted and what do I do about the giant canna lillies?

Answer: Generally, daffodils are hardy bulbs meaning they are left in the ground until the bulbs become crowded and need to be separated. You should replant them soon so that they can root and settle in for winter. In the spring let the foliage die back naturally and then remove the dried leaves. That's really all you have to do -- they go dormant for the summer and begin to grow again underground in the fall.

Gladiolus should be left in the ground until frost kills the foliage. This way the foliage can grow and nourish the bulb as long as possible for next year's flowers. When you dig them up in the fall remove all traces of dry foliage, dry the corms thoroughly and store them in a cool dry place protected from rodents. These you will replant in late spring.

Cannas are really rhizomes, and are not hardy in your zone. In fall after frost, gently dig up the huge clump of rhizome. (It can easily be the size of a basketball.) Some gardeners rinse off the dirt and let it air dry for a day or two, then store in dry sand or peat moss. (I usually shake off the truly excess soil and toss them in a cardboard box.) Store them slightly cool, at about 55 degrees, for the winter. In any case, do not let them freeze and check regularly for any signs of mold or rot. In the spring, clean them off, divide them into sections with two or three "eyes" each and start them back into growth. You can start them earlier in containers or wait until the ground is warm and start them outside, just remember that they do not tolerate frost.

Good luck with your bulbs!

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