How to give your bulbs a lift for winter; gardening.
I'M ashamed to say that in the past, when I've lifted summer bulbs in October I haven't really taken care with storage and have at times ended up with rotten, soggy specimens which are unfit for planting the following year.
But with the price of bulbs, especially more unusual types, it is worth giving them a little TLC so that you can replant them again in spring, after the last frosts.
Gladioli and other summer-flowering corms such as ixias and sparaxis, tubers of tropaeolum tuberosum and half-hardy summer-flowering bulbs including tigridias and chincherinchees, should be lifted in autumn when the foliage has been blackened by frost. Dig them out carefully with a fork, taking care not to bruise them, and remove and soil which is sticking to them. Then cut off all but lcm (l/2in) of the main stem.
The big mistake I made was not drying them off quickly. If you don't, any damp soil, roots or leaves left on them will cause the bulbs to rot. Store them initially in shallow boxes in an airing cupboard or other warm spot for a few days, which will make it easier to remove any remaining soil and old roots. When completely dry, some people dust them with sulphur to prevent rotting.
The bulbs can then be loosely wrapped in newspaper and stored in shallow boxes or trays in a cool but frost-free place.
Gladiolus corms should be cleaned before storing, by removing the old corm from the base and saving the small cormlets to grow on. They will take several years to reach flowering size.
I know that many people are tempted to leave summer-flowering bulbs in the ground in the hope they will re-emerge the following year and, indeed, some do have success.
A trial on overwintering bulbs published last year by Gardening Which? magazine found that 88% of gladiolus corms left in the ground were growing well by the following spring, while only 69% of lifted corms were doing so.
However, dahlia tubers fared best when lifted and stored in a frost-free place, although the trial showed that tubers which were left in the ground did better if they were mulched with 1015cm of compost or bark to protect them
Alstroemeria, known as Peruvian lilies, also did well when left in the ground, whether mulched or not.
In general, lilies don't need lifting but they don't like to be too wet in winter, so if you have them in a pot, move them somewhere where they will be protected from heavy rain.'
Patti Dawson gives a demonstration called A Colourful Imagination to Caernarfon Flower Club, Institute Buildings, Caernarfon, 7pm. Also a competition called Autumn Blaze
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Give bulbs a little TLC and you can replant them again in spring. Store them initially in shallow boxes