Digging up Calla & Cana bulbs

daddylonglegs(z5 WI)October 8, 2007

Every year I wait until the first frost wipes out the leaves, let the stems die back, then cut them off at the soil line and dig up the bulbs. I then hose them off and let them dry in the garage for a few weeks before storing them on shelves in the basement.

Last year, however, we were hit with some cold weather early, and I lost quite a few bulbs that were drying in the garage, especially the callas.

What does everyone else do?

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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

If they're hit by frost, I cut the folliage off right away. I dig them when you do, but I only dry them for a couple of days. Dahlia's I do a bit different. I will cut the folliage after a frost, but then I leave the tubers in the ground for about 2 weeks. Seems to "harden them off".


    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 8:02PM
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I treat my cannas like houseplants--they're in large pots which I bring into the house before frost. They bloom like crazy every year out on the deck, and make a pretty 'tropical' houseplant. Never grew callas--would like to, though :)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 9:56AM
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I usually wait until both cannas & callas are hit by a good frost then dig em up, knock or hose all the dirt off and cut the tops off about 4" above the tuber. I let them dry in the sun for a couple of days if possible. Then I pack them in peat moss (layered) in very large rubbermaids.
Last year I had so many cannas that I didn't have room to dry them so just packed them in the peat moss. Those cannas are almost 8' tall right now (I'm not kidding!) This year I'm inviting my garden club over to dig them up after a freeze and we'll sell them at our annual plant sale in early June (all proceeds go to cancer research). Some club members have already offered to store them for the winter.

My callas however...I'm going to try something new and dig them up next week. We haven't really had a frost yet but they are laying on the ground and I think the tubers are ready. Those I will dry before packing away in peat moss.
I have also stored them in paper bags but they tend to dry out during the winter. One would think they'd rot in the plastic covered containers but they do much better and in the late spring they pop the lids off the containers as if to say "We're awake and ready for another year!"


    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:28AM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

I go to Europe on Oct. 10th, before the first frost in my area, and then return on Nov. 14th and hope that the darn things aren't too frozen yet. Then about a week later I pull the cannas and dahlias out of the dirt, brush the dirt off as much as possible, and plunk them in the cool family room for about a week until someone posts and I remember that I should wrap the darn things in newspaper and put them in the basement. :-)

My canna lilies never bloom, what the heck am I doing wrong? I also used the pot method this year, lots of dahlias and even some cannas in pots so that I don't have to go throug the whole dreadful plant/dig up cycle anymore.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 12:14AM
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I have not had any luck with Dahlias since I moved here. Probably not enough sun where I planted them. I planted my cannas in full sun and they got huge & bloomed wonderfully. I don't have access to that full sun area next year. It was on the edge of a cornfield that was never developed but the developer has now kicked me off. Sigh....it will revert back to huge weeds now.

Anyway, cannas, callas, & dahlias need A LOT of sun to bloom!


    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 10:11AM
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milwdave(Zone5 Milwaukee)

About 2 yrs ago someone in Waukesha shared some of the beautiful old red Cannas with me. I have lost them all...are there anymore to be had in this area? You cannot buy them anywhere.:(


    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 8:59AM
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Lost them to a freeze? Or put them somewhere and forgot?

I get offered red canna every year by a neighbor who gets them from her Mom. I stopped planting them because I got tired of digging them up every year and sometimes I "lost" them only to be found too late for planting.

If I get offered any again I'll try to remember this post. You are in my area.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 12:40PM
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milwdave(Zone5 Milwaukee)

Thanks bud...it would be appreciated. My hummingbirds love these. But yes, i lost them in a freeze.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 9:08AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

MilwDave, I have plenty of the red variety. Let's try to get a swap going this spring and I'll bring you some bulbs.

I am in Waukesha.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:35PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Ah yes, plant swap/don't eat the Hosta time. Count me in. And MilwDave you could end up with enough canas to circle your yard.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 6:18PM
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Hi All;

This year I planted canns for the first time, some one told me that if protected cannas will come back in this area, I do not want to take chances so I will do the pit moss suggestion, I will let you all know

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:21PM
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I decided to dig out my baby callas this past week, mostly becasue I was curious how much they grew. They are babies because I started them from my own seeds. As you can see 3 yrs later I have 20# of calla bulbs!

I haven't gotten around to digging most or my tropicals yet--No rush--I'm still enjoying them.

I ran this question by a guy with a PhD in horticulture. He agreed that not a lot of energy is going to travel from leaves into bulb thru a freezing stem as a hard frost hits your garden. It happens fast. What difference does it make?
Perhaps the frost tells your plant to go dormant. But Bare rooting in the shed has the same effect, IMHo. Calla don't need to be told this. Canna do best if they never truely do go dormant.( barely moist peat moss)

I have too much to dig so some things come in before frost. Some after.
If I have extra I try different storage methods and see which works out better for me.

For me the yellow blooming type calla go bare bulb on a shelf in my basement for 7 months of winter.I will remove the leaves pictured first.

My 'White Giant' calla will remain potted. The tropicanna, bengal tiger canna (fussy) do better in barely moist peat moss (bagged). Louis cottin canna aren't fussy and I have too many so-go bare bulbed into wire storage racks.

The first stop is the shed to dry, the second is the basement a few weeks later depending on the weather. I don't wash them. I used to but it just delays storage and well- you know what happens if they freeze in the shed!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:39AM
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