Ask a Question forum→fall is here- how to prepare warm weather tubers? (Begonia, canna, caladium)

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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 18, 2020 2:41 PM CST
Its about time for them to come in- but this is always tricky-
conventional wisdom is let them dry out, then take them in before frost-
They've already lost a lot of their leaves and I always have the issue that they are never dry before frost-

I am going to dig them up, do I wait for a frost to kill leaves? DO I dig thm up when they still have leaves then let them dry- how do you guys do it?
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Name: Steve
Port Orchard, WA (Zone 8b)
Oct 18, 2020 6:04 PM CST
Last yr took begonias & cannas in before frost killed leaves. Left dirt on, placed them in cardboard boxes in crawl space that stayed above 50f, did not water over winter. Removed dirt when replanting April. Did not loose any, Zone 8b.
Previously, lived in z2b, had begonia tuber lasts for 5 yrs. Stored them in gararge near house boiler (this kept them from freezing when outside went to -18f & other areas of gararge would freeze). DID provide water monthly after December--I dry climates tubers can shrivel without moisture.
Never grown caladiums.
[Last edited by BrooklynStart - Oct 18, 2020 6:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 18, 2020 7:28 PM CST
I have an attic to store them- its dark all the time, never freezes, but it almost always 49-35 degrees F, when elephant ears caladium and begonia are dormant- I just don't know how to move them from struggling outside in too cold but still damp stuggling conditions when we have 45 degree nights and 70 degree days - to dry-dormant nearly fully dark inside when thier pots can not come with them
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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Oct 18, 2020 7:51 PM CST
I did mine a couple of weeks ago. I cut them back and clean them off. After that I let them dry out for a couple of days. Place in large containers with peat moss so they are not touching and put into my crawl space which would stay quite a bit warmer then my attic.
Name: Steve
Port Orchard, WA (Zone 8b)
Oct 18, 2020 8:07 PM CST
Appears that you are worried about drying them outside before bringing them inside. In the past, I would remove the dirt from the begonias before bringing them inside. I never let them dry in the sun. Just took them into the gararge. Last yr was my first canna overwintering, did not loose any. This yr, plan on taking the cannas out after leaves turn brown, removing the dirt, then placing them cardboard boxes and then into the crawl space.
Do not have to worry about the begonia, never put it in dirt, left it sit atop of a plastic pot in the shade and watered it every few days ( got busy doing other thins). Had about 2-3 very large flowers, have had plant for about 10 yrs. Its tuber is like an irregular shaped softball--part of tuber may be dead but as long as it leaves out in spring I will keep it and probably grow grow pups from it. I may bring it in this late this week when lows are 38f, or may let it stay out till lows are closer to 32f.
Remember, tubers from all of them will be killed if left outside with no dirt when it freezes. They can also die from too dry conditions --probably not in NYC, but yes in Denver. (Denver area has very dry powder snow in early winter, then wet snow starting about March.
As NJBob stated, keep them separated, I use air as my separator --use about 5 boxes for cannas and 2 for begonias.
[Last edited by BrooklynStart - Oct 18, 2020 8:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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Oct 19, 2020 1:21 AM CST
I did my ele ears and caladiums for the first time last year, I just dug them up, cut any remaining foliage off, and knocked off all the dirt I could, then spread them on newspaper to dry in my laundry room, which is unheated. After they were dry, I placed them in a box with newspapers and left them in the laundry room. I don't have a dryer so it stays cool all winter. They did fine. I'm planning to dig up the ele ears, dahlias and my one canna this weekend.
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Name: Paula Benyei
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 25, 2020 10:43 PM CST
Thank you ALL so much.. it will be nice if any live.. you know that itch you get in February- where you are so sick of cold and dark that the idea of anything alive sends you running for your credit card and catalogue.....

My tubers/bulbs are going in a dark uninsulated attic,

I'm glad to know I don't have to wait for this mythical combo of very dry, cool, but not to cold and perfectly wilting.., blah blah,

Tell me if I've misunderstood:
nights approach Frost, you can yank out living plants, cut off the green, lay them out flat in a cold dark place, above freezing, but below 60.. then how long do you wait before you pack or package them in a way they neither rot or shrivel? Begonias are very wet and can easily rot, caladiums are harder tubers, pansy about cool temps, oxalis tolerate cold, but not wet. ,

I'm going to pull them out of my the dirt/pot, and lay them out to dry
In the dark of my attic, which will have dry cold temps - but how often do you check for rot, or drying out?
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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Oct 26, 2020 5:22 AM CST
the attic sounds perfect.

Cannas, I have done lots and almost never find rot. I have cut before freeze usually, but once after freeze. (I am waiting this year, they are still full of bloom) I wash, or don't wash depending on my mood and the day, let surface dry, then loosely (can't be anything but loose due to the weird shapes) pack them in a cardboard box, may or may not have shavings or fresh pine needles around them.

Caladiums, I left as potted and just let the whole pot dry out. Oxalis (purple and green ) same thing. Begonias I don't do.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
MI (Zone 5b)
Nov 6, 2020 9:37 PM CST
All good comments above. If growing in the ground try to dig caladiums up early. They are very sensitive to cold temps, and if you wait until they die back you may not recognize them or remember the variety.

Cannas are pretty tough. I have grown the large variety and the roots multiply so fast, that in some years it seems you end up with 10 times what you planted. So if you have the large variety plant them sparingly or you will have a 50 pound clump to try to dig up. Mid October is a good time in the Midwest to dig them up, hopefully they are about done flowering. I am in zone 5b and I have some I planted next to the foundation on the South side of the house. I can just pile some extra leaves there this time of year and they will be fine, but I may have to thin them out in the spring. I have been storing mine in shredded paper, in boxes in my garage, but some really cold years, and the garage door is left open too long, they do not fare too well.

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