Here’s the dilemma, you’ve grown some beautiful plants all summer long. They’ve looked glorious and now with the threat of a killing frost imminent, you want to try to save your beautiful flowers to enjoy them again next year. Fortunately, with plants that grow from a tuber, this is possible! Here are our recommended steps for digging up those bulbs and tubers to store overwinter indoors.

  • Towards the end of the growing season when the weather starts to get really chilly, you’ll notice the leaves on your plants start to yellow. This is a good time to dig them up.
  • Take a shovel or trowel and dig into the soil and harvest the bulb or tuber in the ground. Take care to aim your tool a bit further out at first to avoid cutting into the bulb itself.
  • Once you’ve unearthed the roots you can gently knock or remove as much soil as you can. Once you’ve gotten most of the soil off, take a garden hose and run water over the bulb to remove all remaining soil.
  • Trim off any hair roots (these are the roots that aren’t part of the big tuber) as well as the stem and leaves. When you’re done you’ll just have the tuber/bulb (that was under the soil line) without any roots or stems.
  • Leave them outside in a sunny spot to dry out. We want to store a bulb without any leaves, roots, soil or moisture. This will prevent them from sprouting prematurely over the winter.
  • Now that your bulbs are harvested, dried and clean you’re ready to store them. Select a crate or box, add some dry peat moss then place the bulbs in the box. Top the bulbs with more peat moss and place the box in a location that is cool, dry and consistently dark (no light or they could sprout). If you’re concerned about rotting you can sprinkle the bulbs with sulphur dust, an organic fungicide, before storing to help prevent rot.

Next spring when it’s time to plant, remove the bulbs from storage and prepare for planting. If needed, divide the bulbs before planting using a sharp nice and slice so you have a substantial enough piece. You can start the bulbs indoors as early as you like but should wait until mid-late May before planting them outside.

Ideally, you wouldn’t start them so early that the plant is too large before placing outside. A month or so is ideal.

Finally, before retiring them for the winter, the fall is a great time to clean, test and protect garden tools and equipment. It will make them last longer and you will avoid surprises in the spring! No one likes starting spring with a “why doesn’t my trimmer work?”

If you have any questions regarding fall gardening, you’re welcome to speak with one of our Daymakers at Heeman’s for more overwintering or fall garden clean up tips.