While tropical plants look great in your garden during the warmer summer months, they can struggle to survive during the winter. The best way to prevent damage and possible death of your beautiful foliage is to bring in the plant bulbs during the cold months. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your bulbs for the winter:
- Dig up your bulbs. It is a good idea to wait until after the first frost to dig up your bulbs. The frost will kill off some of the leaves, signaling to the plant that it’s time to go dormant. Try to dig as carefully as possible to prevent any damage to the bulb. Damaged bulbs can rot in storage over time.
- Trim back the foliage. The amount you trim will depend on the plant itself. For elephant ears and taro plants, cut the stems down to about 6 inches. For canna bulbs, trim to about 2-3 inches.
- Wash the dirt from the bulb, but do not scrub the bulb clean. Scrubbing the bulb will cause damage to the outer layer and eventually lead to rot.
- Cure the bulbs by storing them in a dry place, like a closet, basement, or a garage, for a few days. Make sure there is good air circulation. Curing the bulbs allows the outer layer to toughen up and prevent the plant from rotting.
- Wrap the cured bulbs in paper bags or newspaper and store them in a cool and dry place for the rest of the winter. If you have room, you can also store bulbs in a fridge.
- Check on the bulbs every month or so. If a bulb starts to rot for any reason, it is important to throw it out as quickly as possible so it doesn’t harm the other bulbs. If you notice several of your bulbs are succumbing to rot, it could be too moist of a location for storage.