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what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Posted by cheerpeople z 5 IL (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 2, 04 at 12:25

Just because I'm stuck in a cold zone doesn't mean I want to surround myself with nothing but corn and soybeans.

I'd like to know what you've had success with that can be stored in a cool dry basement.

Here is what I've had luck and no luck with so far:

Did ok;
tall canna
colocasia esculenta
alocasis odora
white calla lily with spotted leaves
ornithogalum saundersiae (ivory coast lily)
amorphophallus konjac

all short canna including. cleopatra ?, red futurity, bengal tiger?, tropicanna, striped beauty, wyoming

tall canna - intrigue
'blackie' sweet potato vine - tried 2 years in a row
violet stem elephant ear-in a pot

wondering about next winter with these new ones:
A. hilo beauty
A. macrorrhiza
A. portodora
C. 'black magic"
canna 'intrigue' and 'bengal tiger' ( gonna try again)
canna musafolia
canna 'mystique'

I'd prefer to learn from you folks rather than lose any more of these wonderful plants.

Feel free to include your list too; I think we could learn from ea. other:) Karen

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Are you sure your canna's are dead. Even if they froze all the ones you listed as dead should have survived. Do not water them over the winter, I leave them in the ground here and they freeze and come back. I also have stored them dry and they look dead but once I water them they sprout.
As for the EE's keep them dry and at at least 40 degrees. Water once in early spring and Do not water again until you see new growth.

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Oh yes they are dead. I dug them up to see what was taking so long. They were like mush with decomposing bugs crawling thru them.

I did try some left in the ground last year here. I didn't care if they made it or not- green ones- all died in the ground, even those next to the foundation. Zone 5 is different than 7 on that. You're kinda lucky!

I never watered the potted violet stem once it hit the basement. Come spring it seemed bone dry . But the plant was mush and of all things an earthworm was alive in the pot.

Go figure.

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Try growing the brugmansia in a good sized pot. In the autumn, bring it in a cool basement, pot and all. The leaves will drop, it will go dormant. In the spring you will have a naked stalk, but water it and put it in the light and soon it will be growing again. I have wintered several like that for the last three years!

Cannas should be removed from the earth, dried and cleaned a bit, then stored in a cool dark place packed in SLIGHTLY moist fresh peat moss if you want to keep them for the winter in Zone 5.

The lime green sweet potato vines produce sizeable tubers that you can store similarly to cannas with a good survival rate, as do the tubers of mirabilis (four o'clocks) which are as tough as nails!

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

A. hilo beauty - keep barely moist. Should be OK
A. macrorrhiza - same as hilo
A. portodora - same as hilo
C. 'black magic" - probably lose it - it is hard to keep in a greenhouse

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

  • Posted by Jroot 5B Ont. Canada (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 14, 04 at 8:50

I agree with the comments about the brugmansia. I have done that for years.

Also I bring in my fig tree to the basement. It goes dormant as well. I put it out in early April on warm days, and lug it back to the garage on cold days, just as I do with the Brugmansia. This way I get 2 crops of figs in one year.
My Papyrus, and black Taro, I bring inside, place in a bucket of water by the window, and it grows all winter. Same thing for cactus. Out they go when the frost danger is over. They love their summer vacation.

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Thanks for your input. I'll have to look up papyrus and see what that looks like.

Oh I did forget to mention I received a brug and am trying that out:) It seems to have a problem losing leaves in the wind and I don't have a better sheltered spot to make it happy. The winds here are pretty bad at times.

Thx again, Happy gardening, Karen

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

  • Posted by Bihai z8B FL (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 15, 04 at 18:44

uhhhhh....what's a basement?

Seriously I admire folks like you who go to great lengths to save over your plants. I did it too before I got a greenhouse. But I have never had a basement.

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

I was reading through these old threads and noticed the one above. Am I missing something or is Bihai? Iam from the midwest; OH precisely. Ive seen houses with or without basements, with or without attics. But having a basement is better than a cold cellar which could freeze. A basement is the foundation of the house, but below it. It is surrounded by limestone or quarry stones.....Nothing like it. Mine is nice!............OHGIRL............

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

Karen, when you say you have a cool basement, what is the average temperature? Makes a difference. Anything around 65 and above, tropicals will want to keep growing, so you'll need some light and have to contend with bugs like mites, scale, etc. Between upper 40s and low 60s I believe is ideal for overwintering things in a more-or-less dormant state...brugs, bananas, EE's, tubers, corms, etc.

Jroot, tell us more about overwintering taros in water! That might be a good solution for some of the ones that don't like to go dormant.

RE: what tropicals can overwinter in your basement?

I dig up my cannas after first frost, lay them out inside to dry a bit for a few days, then pack in barely damp peat moss like Don suggests. Your cool dark place ideally is around 50 degrees. Anything above 60 will encourage sprouting. I put mine in barely dampened peat moss in a large ziplock baggie kept open a tad at the top for ventilation, and I put the whole mess in a metal tin to keep mice out. I check every month or two to see if I need to drizzle a little water inside (usually not needed). Sometimes they sprout but I just ignore that. I pot them up in March or April and grow them in a sunny warm window until they can go outdoors again.

I overwintered an Alocasia (not labelled but probably 'macrorhiza') in a pot last year. Put it in a cool, fairly dim basement room. Didn't water much. It just sort of sat there without growing all winter, then when it got warm it took off again. Much easier than keeping it in a warm, sunny place and fighting pests all winter.

'Black magic' is tough. Spider mite magnet. But some people can do it. I'm not one of them.

I'm guessing the plants you lost either froze or rotted. Tropicals need to kept very dry in the winter indoors.

What sort of potting medium are you using? Are you digging them up from the yard or do they stay in pots outdoors all summer? If they are potted, I suggest buying a good soilless potting medium like Fafard's or ProMix to reduce soil bugs. MiracleGro soil is cheap and easily available but stays awfully soggy and which can lead to rot.

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