Storing Cannas ...

Hi everyone ! This year for the first time I had a bed of Cannas in my garden . How do I store them for winter ?? I have read up on it a little and it said to store them in peat moss . My dilemma is that I can't find any in any stores around here . Are there other alternatives ? I want to store them in my basement . Please help ! Thanks ! Rosie z5
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On Sat, 9 Oct 2004 00:48:36 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (rosemarie face) opined:

Get some large crates which fruit comes in from the grocery store. Dig out the cannas, soil and all and store them in the basement in that soil. You don't have to use peat moss. Ordinary garden soil which is on them now will be fine. I stored mine that way for decades. Now I live in Texas and we don't have to lift them.
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I use its own soil, newspaper, and sawdust to store them. Works good.
Fito
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I use crumbled newspaper, their own soil, and a dash of water and keep them in a plastic supermarket bag in my basement. They're hard to kill. Just don't let them dry out.
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Lowes has Peat moss in 6 cubic foot cubes for $8. Since that's pretty cheap, you can even get an OPEN bag for HALF PRICE!! That's enough to store all your tubers in and make your own potting soil as well!! madgardener
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That price is correct, but I believe those bales are 3.8 cubic feet.

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Just what you need - another answer! I dig them up and hose off all the soil. Because I don't want soft tissue that can rot (and has for me, in the past), I clip back the fine roots to about 2". Dry the tubers on screens for a day. Pick up a container of sulfur powder at a garden store. While you're there, pick up some vermiculite - enough to completely cover all the tubers in their storage container. Put an appropriate amount of sulfur in a plastic bag, drop in the bulbs, and shake to dust them as if you were dusting chicken with flour. Remove the roots and shake off the excess sulfur. Bury the tubers in vermiculite.
I use large plastic storage boxes because they're more manageable than plastic bags. And, they won't get holes in them, which would cause vermiculite to leak all over the place. And, you'll want to check the condition of the tubers and moisture level in the box from time to time. Opening a lid is easier than dealing with a bag in the corner of a dark basement.
The vermiculite can be used year after year. By the way, you should work OUTDOORS with vermiculite. If I recall, the dust is something you shouldn't breathe.
This technique came from a hotel gardener I knew in Long Island 25 years ago. His reasoning was as follows:
1) The soil contains microorganisms which make compost. He didn't want to take any chances with the little buggers making compost out of his canna roots.
2) The sulfur raises the acidity level of the tubers' "skin", which he felt would lessen the chances of rotting.
3) The vermiculite is sterile, at least in theory.
Considering that this guy grew ten foot tall cannas, and the tubers were enormous, I was inclined to take his advice. And, it works.
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Thanks for another method that works.
Now... WHEN to dig up the cannas? Some of mine are still flowering, and others are turning yellow, along with the dedicious trees.
Can I yank them out and hack them down while in full bloom? TIA
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The standard advice is to wait until after they are hit by heavy frost. I don't like to do so, because the foliage gets slimy and unpleasant to deal with. It's also not much fun to be mucking about in the dirt when it's frosty outside. So I take mine down and out on a nice sunny day while they are still green. Indian summer is the perfect weather for it.
If this is your first time digging them up, you will be amazed at how much the rhizomes have multiplied! Have fun, Sue
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How much of the old stem should you leave on the tuber?
My experience so far. I planted this plant for the first time last year. The lady that gave them to me said just dig them up shake off most of the dirt and put them in plastic shopping bags and hang in the garage. I did and a good amount of my tubers turned to mush. I think I put too many in each bag and I should have dried them out a day or two out side in the sun to get rid of the extra moisture. I guess it is a fine line. They are a live plant that can't dry out but you can't have too much moisture either.
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Hardly any stem. Maybe 1/2". Make a nice clean cut with a sharp kitchen knife. Make sure a little of the sulfur powder clings to the open cut after you shake off the excess powder. The stem is soft tissue, unlike the outside of the tubers, which are sorta kinda "sealed" by a skin. So, the open cut is more likely to rot.

They're better off in the basement, unless your basement is quite warm. I used to have a root cellar that stayed between 35 and 45 degrees all winter, and that worked fine. If your garage gets below freezing, the roots won't be happy - they're sometimes better off in the ground under a lot of mulch, as opposed to hanging in the garage. It all depends on your weather. One of my dahlias was accidentally left in the ground one winter and it survived. It was up against the East wall of the house, which got lots of sun. I put a foot of straw on top of it after I realized my mistake, and the plant came back healthy.
Indoors, the goal isn't much different than storing potatoes. You don't want to let them get dry & shriveled, but you don't want them too wet. Too warm and they'll start growing. Too cold and they'll freeze and become soup. So, you have to keep a thermometer nearby, and fondle the tubers from time to time. The best way to add water is with a misting bottle.
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Thanks Doug. Good point about the potatoes. Is that what happens if they freeze, they turn to soup. a couple were mush. I think that is what happened to mine. Maybe it wasn't too much moisture but the freezing temps that got them. I'm in a bad situation. My main basement is like 65 and the storage part that also houses the furnace is like 70. At first last year I bought some off of eBay and they started to grow in the basement. The garage has two walls towards the house and one un-insulated but sheet rocked and insulated garage doors. I stored them towards the front of the garage near the doors, the only place I had room. Maybe I should store them towards the warmer corner of the garage. Thanks. Fred

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Fred, get yourself a basic recording thermometer at a real garden center. It's an essential garden tool. It's got a U-shaped glass tube with liquid inside, and markers which stay in place to tell you the highest & lowest temps reached during any particular period. After you check it, you push a button and the markers are reset. No electricity. It'll help figure out the best storage places for your bulbs.

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On 12 Oct 2004 09:02:11 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@virtua.org (TheCouchCruncher) opined:

Never store anything from seeds to tubers in plastic bags.
When I lived in NY Zone 6b, I would wait till frost killed the tops back, cut them to about six inches so I could use that as a handle and I'd slip a fork under them and chunk the whole rhizome and soil out. I stored the whole clump in a bushel basket from the grocery store, which they will give to you if you ask. You can also buy cheap dollar bushel sized laundry baskets at the dollar store. As long as the rhizomes don't freeze, they are fine in the garage, or basement. I wouldn't keep them in an attic because it may be too warm up there during the day.
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