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Dividing and Storing Bulbs

  • Divide in Fall at planting time
  • For best results, divide only when crowded
  • Most bulblets will not bloom the first year, Iris need a new ‘eye’ to bloom

Care of Spring Bulbs

Harvest: after the leaves have died or first frost, except for Tuberous Begonias.
Do not bruise or scrape when digging the bulbs.
Leave the soil on the bulbs and dry before storing. Once dry gently break soil away from bulb but do not wash.

Storage: dust bulb with fungicide and insecticide (Dusting Sulfur).
Keep in a cool and dry place, 35-55 degrees F with peat moss or sawdust.
Check periodically; remove and discard rotted or extremely soft bulbs.

For most species listed, the curing period should be relatively short (e.g. dahlias, cannas, calla, caladium). This short-term curing period or drying period should be 1 to 3 days, depending somewhat on temperature. It should be done in a room or area away from direct sunlight or drying winds. For long term’ curing, as with gladiolus, tigridia, montbretia, and oxalis, the curing period should be approximately 3 weeks. Then, in the case of gladiolus, the old corms and cormels should be removed. Drying and curing temperatures for such materials should be 60-70 degrees in a dry, well-ventilated area.

Pest Control
Before storing corms, dust them with a fungicide-insecticide mixture, such as dusting sulfur. This will control thrips and protect small cuts from letting in rot.

One of the most important items to remember before placing the bulbs in storage is to label the plant material carefully. In the case of gladiolus and similar bulbs, this is easily handled by placing the corm in a small paper bag which has been labeled. Larger materials, like the fleshy rhizome of canna, can be handled in several ways. One technique that works quite well is to write directly on the fleshy root with a permanent felt marking pen. If this is done on large clumps the variety name should be written on several roots rather than on just one, because in storage occasionally a root is broken off of the main clump. “Tree labels” of the wood-and-wire type work well for labeling this type of plant bulb. In all cases, variety name and/or other important identifying characteristics should be written on the label and also recorded in a notebook. Labeling is not emphasized adequately in many cases, and many prized plants have been lost because of poor labeling.

Remember to periodically check your stored bulbs, tubers, and roots during the storage season. Remove any damaged or rotting materials and in cases where tuberous roots like dahlias have some rot occurring, cut back until you reach clean white, fleshy tissue again. Remember that these structures are living plants and as such need attention and care even during their dormant period.

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