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Q & A - Glads, Begonias and Dahlias
by Jerry Filipski
by Jerry Filipski


Gerald (Jerry) Filipski is the gardening columnist for the Edmonton Journal, a position he has enjoyed as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Jerry also writes for Canadian Gardening, the new Alberta Gardener as well as for the lifestyle magazine of P&O ferries. Jerry also does numerous public speaking engagements including some major gardening conferences and workshops as well as question and answer sessions for Wal-Mart and Rona.

January 1, 2000

Q.- I had a beautiful display of gladiolus this year and would like to save the corms for next year. What is the best method for overwintering these?

A.- Let your glads grow for as long as possible, until the frost kills the tops. Dig them up carefully so as not to spear the corms. Knock off as much soil as possible but don't be too fussy at this stage. Cut the tops off as close to the corm as possible. Place the corms in a shallow box or paper bags, dust them with a good quality pest and disease dust.

Be sure to label the varieties as you store them for ease of identification next spring. Store the corms in a warm, dry location preferably with a temperature of 27-32 C (80-90 F) for 10 days. This curing is most important. You can begin the final cleaning of the corms when the plump corm can be separated from the old, shrivelled corm.

Dust the corms once again with pest and disease dust and store in a location with a temperature in the 5-10 C (40-50F) range.

Q.- When is the best time to bring in my tuberous begonias to overwinter? Do you have any tips on what I should store them in after I bring them indoors?

A.- After the first fall frost let the begonias mature by withholding water if they are potted. If they were planted out, dig them up taking as much soil with the roots as possible. After approximately 3 weeks the tops should be wilted and you can remove them close to the tuber. Clean the roots of all soil. Place the tuber in dry vermiculite, peat moss or perlite and place in the basement. A cold room is ideal with a temperature of 5-10 C (40-50 F).

Q.- I always have a problem with my dahlia tubers drying up during winter storage. I try to keep them slightly moistened during storage but some of the tubers always seem to dry up on me. Any suggestions?

A.- An old but reliable technique has always been to dip the tuber in melted paraffin wax. This is similar to the method used to keep roses in storage. Dip the tuber quickly into the wax. Do not let it sit too long or you may damage the tuber. Try to get an even, thin coat on the tuber. If you notice a spot or two that is not covered with wax once you remove the tuber you can apply some wax over the uncovered areas. Dip a stick into the wax and paint over the areas.

If you do not use the paraffin method you need to check the tubers regularly and mist spray them if you notice any shrivelling .

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