Storage Of Summer Bulbs

One of the great beauties of the Summer Mixed, Mixed Perennial, or Cottage Border is the spectacular group of bulbs known as Summer Bulbs. The Summer Bulbs with their wide variety of colour and shape add a great deal of interest to our gardens throughout the summer. Most of the summer bulbs will continue to bloom well into early autumn. At this point many gardeners do not know how to properly treat these beauties for the winter. This confusion on which bulbs that are lifted and stored for the winter and those that are not is enough to confuse most people. Adding to this confusion is when and how to treat them makes many gardeners use the tender summer bulbs as Horticultural annuals. It really is not that difficult in fact some of the variables allow you to do them at different times spreading out your workload in the autumn.


Here is a suggestion list to make it all clear:

Begonia (Begonia X tuberhybrida)

  • Dig after one light frost touches the foliage and seals the stems. Do not allow bulbs to freeze!
  • Store in dry or barely moist vermiculite or Peat Moss at 45° to 55° F. Check often for rot.

Calla Lilly (Zantedeschia)

  • Dig after one light frost touches the foliage. Do not allow bulbs to freeze!
  • Store in dry or barely moist vermiculite or Peat Moss at 45° to 55° F. Check often for rot.

Canna Lily (Canna X generalis)

  • Lift after the leaves have been turned black by the frost. You do not have to wash off the soil but I do gentlely wash off only excess soil and allow them to dry in the sun for the day. Do not let them freeze!
  • Store in dry sand or peat at 40° to 45° F. I like to store them upside down.


  • After several good frosts dig them up and turn them upside down to allow the moisture to drain away and place in a warm area until the leaves and stems are dry.
  • Do not remove any attached soil. Store them with it attached in dry peat but dry vermiculite is better at 40° to 55° F. Check the bulbs for rot frequently.


  • Lift in the autumn and cut off the stems about 4 inches above the corm. Allow drying in a warm area for several weeks. Then remove the old stems and a few loose outer husks. Separate the young bulbs from the mother and dust with a good soil and bulb dust. This is extremely important to control thrips!
  • Store the corms loose in a warm dry area at 40°F to50°F. I like to use old clean onion bags to store them in. Check for Thrips and dust again if necessary.

Acidanthera (Acidanthera murieliae)

  • Treat the same as gladiolus but they bloom later so start them early (in Peat Pots) to achieve good blooming before you have to lift them in the autumn
  • For storage, treat the same as Gladiolus.

Anemone (Anemone coronaria)

  • Lift after a light frost. Dry off any remaining tops. Hardy to Canadian Zone 7.
  • Store in dry peat moss or dry vermiculite at 45° F to 55° F. Check for rot occasionally.

Mexican ShellFlower (Tigridia pavonia)

  • Flowers are reminiscent of orchids. Dig in early autumn and dry off in a warm area.
  • Store at 50° F to 60° F In dry vermiculite.

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)

  • These are very late blooming and should be grow here in pots. Lift pots before frost and place in a sunny spot indoors to achieve blooming
  • Treat as a houseplant for as long as possible. Then allow to go dormant.

It is always important to come as close as possible to these conditions to achieve success with your summer bulbs. With care your summer bulbs will multiply providing you with more summer variety and colour in your garden. You may even have enough to share with your very best friends.

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