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How to Lift Tender Summer Flowering "Bulbs" Before Winter Arrives

The summer blooming “bulb” is a term used for plants that develop from structures that are not true bulbs but rather tubers, corms, rhizomes or tuberous roots. The difference is that true bulbs planted in the fall (tulips for example) actually require cold temperatures to develop properly. Summer planted “bulbs” are tender and cannot over-winter in the ground where harsh winters (where the ground freezes) are a norm. If you have flowering summer plants in your landscape and live in an area with very cold winters, continue reading. Some beautiful summer flowers/plants like dahlia, gladiolus, tuberous begonia, canna, calla lily, and Elephant Ear are actually either subtropical or tropical plants. Their bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers will not survive if your ground freezes and they should be lifted before that happens. These can be dug up after the plant is killed by frost or after the foliage has dried up. After curing or a drying out period, place in sphagnum peat or vermiculite and store in a cool (45–50°F), dry location over the winter. If you have problems with rodents, protect your “bulbs” by storing in a rodent proof container. Monitor over the winter and remove any rotting pieces. You could also transfer to soil in a pot and move into a greenhouse or shed, but do not allow soil to freeze. Read more about lifting tender “bulbs” in our article.
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