The growing season might be over, but you don’t have to say goodbye to your tropical plants. With a little effort, you can have twice as many next spring, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. You can store the bulbs. For those who have a special liking for elephant ears, cannas, gladioli, dahlias, begonias, caladium, and other exotics, here’s how to save bulbs from the winter cold.
After foliage has dried back from the first light frost, trim the top growth, then gently dig up each bulb and brush off excess soil. Discard any that are dried out or rotted. Spray each bulb with a protective fungicide such as Concern Copper Soap and allow to dry. Keep bulbs in a warm, dry area for a week to ease them into dormancy. Store the bulbs in a cardboard box. Cover the bottom with newspaper and place the bulbs so they don’t touch each other. Cover with peat moss, then make another layer.
Most bulbs prefer a 45 to 55 degree temperature range. Begonias, gladioli, and cannas prefer 50 to 60 degrees.