University of Illinois Extension

Dig and Store Summer Bulbs

Now as summer is winding down and frost may soon be on the way, it is time to dig and store summer bulbs like dahlias and gladiolus.

Sharon Yiesla

"These bulbs can be dug and stored inside for use in the garden next summer, "said Yiesla. "Different bulbs will need slightly different care."

She recommended following some guidelines in this process.

With tuberous begonias, dig the tubers after the first frost; dry the tubers in the open air for a few days; store tubers in dry peat moss, vermiculite, etc, at 35 to 40 degrees.>

Caladium tubers should be dug in fall before leaves lose all their color; dry the tubers in the open air for a few days; store in dry peat or vermiculite, at 70 to 75 degrees.

For Calla Lily, dig rhizomes in fall after foliage withers; allow rhizomes to dry; store at 50 to 60 degrees.

Yiesla said with cannas dig rhizomes in fall after first frost; let rhizomes dry for a day or two; store in dry peat or vermiculite at 40 to 50 degrees.

The tuberous roots of Dahlias should be dug after the first frost. Before digging, cut the tops off so that a three to four inch section of stem remains attached.
"This insures that there is a bud present to grow next season," Yiesla said. "Tuberous roots, unlike other underground structures have no buds (growing points.) Tuberous roots tend to spread, so dig away from the main stem; try to dig the entire clump to avoid injuring the individual tuberous roots.

"Remove the majority of the soil from the clump; let the remainder dry and remove it once dry. Store in dry peat or vermiculite at 35 to 50 degrees; packing material can be slightly moist to reduce shrinkage of the tuberous roots.">

Elephant Ears should be dug up in autumn after the first frost; allow tubers to air dry; store in dry peat or vermiculite, at 70 to 75 degrees.

"With gladiolus, dig the corms up after the first frost," she said. "Cut the stems just above the corm; air dry the corms for a week or more; store in mesh bags or slotted trays with good air circulation; store at 40 to 45 degrees."