In the Garden: Bobbing for blooms

Published: Nov. 8, 2020 at 10:05 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - In this week’s segment of “In the Garden,” our Sharon Meyer and garden expert Charlie Nardozzi bob for bulbs so they can have blooming buds for next spring.

Sharon: Charlie this is a segment that I really want to learn a lot about. I had some really nice dahlias this year and now I need to know how to keep them through the winter.

Charlie: Ah yes we remember these dahlias they looked beautiful didn’t they?

Sharon: They did, once upon a time.

Charlie: Once upon a time but after a good freeze this is what they look like. So to get them to make it through the winter the first thing you want to do is cut down all the foliage. Just take it all down right to the ground level even if yours didn’t freeze for some reason it’s still a good idea to do it. So once you’ve cut it all down then you want to dig it up.

Sharon: OK carefully!

Charlie: Carefully right. (Laughter)

Sharon: So how do you know where to put your blade you don’t want to chop the bulb?

Charlie: Right you don’t want to get too close to it, so generally if you go out maybe six inches or a foot away from the center of the plant you’re going to get most of them. You might cut a couple but you’ll see in a minute we have a lot of bulbs a lot of rhizomes. So you just wanna dig straight down all the way around and you can see them pop right out

Sharon: Oooh!

Charlie: Oh yeah (laughter) and you’re gonna get a lot of soil too, but it’s better to get a lot of soil and knock it off versus having to do it later

Sharon: But you’ve got to knock all of that off.

Charlie: Yeah, so we’re knocking all the soil off and then slowly but surely the bulbs or the rhizomes we should call them get revealed.

Sharon: Now what about those roots are those just going to dry up over the winter?

Charlie: Yes, so what do you want to do with this now is leave it out for an afternoon, a nice day like today, let it dry out a little bit more, knock some more of the soil off. So before you’re going to store them in the basement somewhere you want to let them cure. So that needs to be in an airy place out of direct sun, could be cool it could be warm but it doesn’t want to obviously freeze. After a couple weeks of doing that you’ll see the skin is really toughened up and then you have a choice so you can actually separate out all the rhizomes here, each one of these it’s going to be a new plant next year

Sharon: Wow!

Charlie: A lot of new plants!

Sharon: Yeah!

Charlie: You can separate them all out but if you do that you want to dip them in a little sulfur so they don’t rot through the winter. And then store them individually or you can just store the whole clump which is what I like to do.

Sharon: And then deal with it in the spring?

Charlie: Exactly. And the other thing is Really important to do is to label it, because you’re not going to remember which ones are the red ones and which ones are the yellow ones!

Sharon: Exactly

Charlie: So put some kind of labeling on these so after you’ve done that then you want to put them in a bucket or in a box or in a bag and then I like to cover them over with some moistened bark mulch or some wood chips and then just keep them in a cool place like a basement 35 to 45 degrees all winter.

Sharon: OK, if you don’t have bark mulch or something like that can you use leaves or what else can you use?

Charlie: You could chop up some leaves that would work OK but potting soil would work or peat moss.

Sharon: OK I’ve got potting soil.

Charlie: There you go (laughter) slightly moist so the soil has to be just damp and you want to check them through the winter so if you see them shriveling you want to miss them a little bit, if you see them getting soft and rotting you want to air it out so it doesn’t rot and then by the spring we just separate these out and cut them off you want to get the big ones the little ones here don’t bother with.

Sharon: OK.

Charlie: The bigger the better with dahlias and cannas and then each one of these you just plant individually and you’ll have even more next summer."

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