Has anyone had any luck storing caladiums over the winter in NC? I've tried but they always end up rotting.
I grow mine in pots -- in late fall I let the soil dry out completely and then I put them (still in the pots) on a shelf in the garage. No water while dormant in the winter. They don't start growing until things really warm up in late spring, but it's worked for me for several years. I haven't tried taking the tubers out of the pots and storing them bare because mine are small species caladiums and I'm afraid they'd desiccate out of the pots.
Karen, that's almost exactly what i do, too. I store mine in the basement on top of the upright freezer for warmth. It seems to be the only place down there that they successfully overwinter, but it works well. I take them back out in spring and start watering once it's really warmed up.
I tend to grow them in pots, even if I grow them in the ground they are often in pots sunk in the ground to hopefully slow down the voles. The mulch-y soil I use tends to wear out by fall so the tubers are exposed somewhat. I pull them out of the ground and place the pots on their sides to allow the plants to dry out and die back (most often on the porch). Once they appear "asleep", I pull the tubers all the way out of the soil and pile them up in a large flower pot and sprinkle it with dry mulch. I store them inside the house. Sometimes I remember where I put them, sometimes I find them in July and hurry up and plant them.
Thanks, I'll try them in the house this year. I think my problem was keeping them too cold (In the 50's).
!?!?! Too cold in the 50s? Hello, the issue here is wetness while dormant. Caladiums are kept in the ground in central and southern Florida, where temps readily dip into the 30s and 40s over winter. The saving grace is that the soils are well-draining sands (even with the irrigation running over the winter).
They've always been dry during storage. I've tried with no soil in mesh bags, in boxes with a covering of dry peat and also left in their pots after the soil got bone dry all with no luck. I relize the air temp can occasionally dip in the 30s where they grow in Fla but Gusolie, do you know how long the soil temp would stay below 50 around Lake Placid Fla? Maybe the 6 months of 50 degrees up here is just too long.
I think the secret is the "curing" process before you store them - however you wish to store them. You have to either allow the plants to completely die back on their own or you have to lay the pots over on their sides and wait for the leaves to completely wither away. Some years we have the perfect mix of dry weather and diminishing day-length so that the ones planted in the ground get all the right signals and go to sleep properly, other years we're too wet or we get an early frost. When I lay mine over they can take more than a month to finally go to sleep. I set the pots up on the porch under the solid roof so that no rain and very little light hits them. I don't water them until the following May.
My unheated garage is below 50 degrees for extended periods in the winter, occasionally dipping just below 40. One thing I've learned with the really tender aroids is to bring them in when the temps start getting below 50 and to be sure they're not out there in any cold rain late in the year. Even if they look fine and maintain foliage down into the 40's, the cold exposure combined with moisture can damage them and predispose to rot. On the other hand, you don't want them to dessicate during winter storage. My garage has been a great place because it's much more humid than indoors, so bare corms and tubers don't dry out.
My basement gets close to freezing, but i'm guessing up on top of that freezer probably stays a good 10 degrees warmer. Most years, my potted caladiums will go to sleep on their own, but i'm going to pay more attention if it's rainy and keep them dry when it's getting cooler. Thanks for the tips, karen & john! I'd never given it that much thought before. That may explain why some of them hadn't come back before, or some of the yrs they failed.
Thanks for the good info. Mayby this year I'll have success.
Tammy, John's tip to turn the pots over is a good one. I do that with other tuberous plants that get away from me in the summer and get too wet, like tuberous begonias that I overpotted. I've got a couple of pots laying out there on their sides right now so they can dry out and resprout.
I'll definitely remember that tip! I know i've lost tuberous things to overwatering (mostly by nature) before.
I've done that with other plants that over-water easy. The first time was by accident. I over-watered an aloe and had taken it out of the pot and tossed it up on the well on its side. I had meant to throw it out but left it there and hadn't revisited that side of the house for ages. I came back and that aloe looked better than I had ever seen while I was babying it.