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How to Store Elephant Ear & Caladium Bulbs During Winter

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How to Store Elephant Ear & Caladium Bulbs During Winter

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Overview

Gardeners in cold winter regions can preserve their of elephant ear (Alocasia spp., Colocasia spp. and Xanthosoma spp.) and caladium (Caladium spp.) plants by lifting the bulb-like tubers when the growing season ends and storing them inside over the winter. Keeping them dry in a cool, frost-free location is key to having healthy, ready-to-plant tubers next spring when frost is no longer a threat.

Step 1

Wipe or break off clumps of soil from the freshly dug elephant ear or caladium tubers in autumn.

Step 2

Cut off stems and foliage from the tubers with hand pruners, making the cut about 1/2 an inch above the stem attachment to the tuber. Discard the leaves and stems in the compost pile.

Step 3

Place the tubers in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to allow any soil to dry on the tubers. This drying period lasts from five days to two weeks. Once dry, rub your fingers and palms over the tubers to break off excess soil clumps.

Step 4

Count the number and note the size of tubers you need to store over the winter.

Step 5

Line a cardboard box with a nest of shredded newspaper or coarse wood shavings/sawdust to a depth of about 3 inches.

Step 6

Place the tubers atop the newspaper or wood shavings with no less than 3 to 4 inches between tubers.

Step 7

Add another layer of shredded newspaper atop the tubers, to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, and place another layer of tubers as in Step 6.

Step 8

Continue placing tubers into boxes in the newspaper or shavings until all are contained.

Step 9

Position the boxes of tubers in a cool, dark, and dry location for the winter. The spot for the boxes must not reach temperatures below 32 degrees F. Also avoid situations where dripping water leaks from pipes, windows, doors or floor cracks may infiltrate the boxes and their contents.

Step 10

Monitor the tubers, checking them every four weeks. Rummage through the boxes to remove any tubers that have become moldy, soft and rotten, or dried and raisin-like.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid fine, compacting materials to place your tubers in. Powdery sawdust, cotton fibers, or mulch prevents good air circulation around tubers and may encourage rot or mold growth. Make sure the tubers' surfaces are fully dry before placing them in the storage boxes or trays.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners (secateurs)
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Shredded newspaper or coarse sawdust/shavings

References

  • Purdue University: Winter Storage of Geranium, Canna, Gladioulis, Caladium and Begonia
  • Homestead.com: Over-Wintering Tender Plants
Keywords: elephant ear tubers, storing tubers, caladium storage

About this Author

James Burghardt became a full-time writer in 2008 with articles appearing on Web sites like eHow and GardenGuides. He's gardened and worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.