5 Steps to Storing Cannas Bulbs During the Winter

Thanks to the canna lilies’ large leaves and massive blossoms, they are a must-have for any garden. With their vast assortment of colors, they add a dramatic look to your backyard that automatically grabs everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, in places where winter temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the bulbs must be dug up and stored for replanting the following spring. Here’s how:

1. Gently dig the bulbs up when the stalks become yellow in late fall or just after the first frost. At this time, you should leave the bulbs in clumps or completely divide them. Some gardeners prefer to separate them when storing, while others opt to wait until the spring before planting.

2. Rinse the bulbs off with water to remove any soil particles and hang them by the stalks of the plants. This allows the bulbs to absorb the last of the moisture from the stalk and leaves, helping them begin dormancy. They should hang for roughly one week. After that time, take them down and cut the stalks off. Throw away any bulbs that are noticeably soft, damaged or diseased.

3. Dust the bulbs with sulfur and place the bulbs in a terra cotta pot. This is so important because it controls mites, black spots, and mildew from occurring. Lay each one in a single layer and cover them with peat moss or vermiculite. Make sure to leave some space between the bulbs, because it needs air to survive. Also, don’t wet the peat moss since the canna bulbs require dry soil.

4. Store the canna bulbs in a cool, dark room with temperatures between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend that you keep them in your basement, garage or shed, since these are typically the coldest rooms in the house. Don’t put them in a spot where they’ll freeze though — that will kill them. Check on the bulbs every month for any signs of mildew or fungus, removing the damaged ones.

5. Approximately four weeks before the last frost, take the bulbs out and plant them in pots indoors.  Don’t plant them outside until the last frost or when the ground temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The bulbs will appear shriveled, but that is nothing to worry about. They will eventually fill out and grow well.

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