Gladiolus and Calla Lily bulb storage

jeanice_in_texasAugust 14, 2008

I live in N. Texas (zone 7). A friend of mine is moving, and dug up some of her gladiolus and calla lilies to give to me. It's only August so I know this was the wrong time of the year to dig them up but it was either now or never. I think I have prepared them for storage incorrectly, and am wondering if anyone can tell me if my method will be ok or if I should just pitch them out and start over. I washed all the corms and cut off the leaves. Unfortunately, I removed (for the most part) the husk on the glad corms as well as the cormels, and they are all drying on a newspapers. I now think I was suppose to leave the husks intact until spring but it's too late for that now. Do you think they'll survive? What about the little cormels? The cormels are about the size of a pea.

And all I did with the Calla Lilies was cut off the leaves, wash them, dried them with a towel, and they are now air drying on newspaper. Do I need to do anything else?

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think I'm suppose to let them air dry now for a couple of weeks, then snap off the old corms off the glads, and store them in Spagnum Peat or Vermiculite. Any help would be appreciated! I've never done this before.

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Well, they may survive; it's probably worth trying. Little too early to be digging up corms and rhizomes, especially if the foliage (which is needed to replenish them for next year) was still green when cut off. As opposed to washing them, as the corms dry for a few weeks on newspaper or in trays, etc, the dirt simply falls away and the old corm on the bottom will come away with a light twist of the wrist. And by removing the husk, you've removed a layer of protection from the corms.

Store corms in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated location at 40 to 45 F. Store in flat boxes, slatted trays, old mesh onion bags or nylon stockings.

The small corms can be planted @ 2" deep but it will be several years before they reach blooming size.

SZantedeschia spp. calla lily rhizome 50-55 degrees F. Dig when foliage turns yellow or when foliage is damaged by frost. Store in sphagnum peat or vermiculite.

And it's entirely possibly the glads - but I seriously doubt the callas - might survive your zone 7 conditions without being dug up and stored each year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:16AM
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Thank you, DuluthinBloomz4 - I think we are on the cusp of zones 7 and 8. I was shocked to learn that my friend has been growing these Calla Lillies and the Glads for several years in her outside garden, and never lifts any of the bulbs. Surprising because we get some really icy weather in winter. I was simply going to move both sets of bulbs and return them straight to the ground at my place...until I started reading more. Thanks again for your suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:01PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

What duluthinbloomz said for now.

I live in zone 7B, right at the bottom of 7, or the top of 8. Sounds just like you. Callas are winter hardy for me in the ground with several inches of mulch. Glads too. If you had moved them right into your garden without cutting back foliage, etc. they probably would have been alright. But since you didn't, I'd store them this year, plant in the spring, and overwinter from then on.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 2:46PM
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Nancy zone 6

You really shouldn't have any problems with either of them overwintering in the future. I'm zone 6 & glads & callas come back every year for me with no problem, I don't bother mulching even. At least they have overwintered the last 5 years or so since I've had callas, & we've had some cold weather under 10 deg, down to 0. Glads are almost like weeds the way they multiply.
Since you have cut off the foliage, I would agree with everyone else & store for the winter this year as they recommended.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 8:13AM
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We live in southwestern Ohio about 40 miles north of the Ohio River, north-northwest from Cincinnati.

A bunch of calla I have in two wooden planters got severely frosted by a 29F night we had last week.
Most of them are knocked down to soil level.

We're currently enjoying a "native American" summer (:
along with the rest of the midwest, with nightime temps in the 40's and highs in the 60's to 70's.
At this point, are the calla bulbs viable & worth salvaging, do you think?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 10:21PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

At this point, are the calla bulbs viable & worth salvaging, do you think?

I think they should be fine.

Taken from the link below:
In colder areas, lift the rhizomes after first frost, clean off excess soil, let dry out of the direct sun for a few days, then store in a dry location that remains between 50 and 60 degrees F. Plant in spring after the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Basics: Cannas and Callas

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Thanks Sue!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 11:15PM
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I dug them out...and have discovered that the bulbs have multiplied in size, some of them as big as tomatos!

They didn't bloom worth a squat!
I may have seem one or two, total!

Is massive bulb growth the only "positive side effect" of lack-of-bloom, in calla?
Or am I just dreaming...........?

Should I split them now, or let them dry as-is, and break them up (some) just before planting in the spring?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 12:17PM
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    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 11:28PM
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I could use some help with the splitting of the bulbs issue... any ideas?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 2:19PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Okay, there are two types of bloomers in the Calla famiy. The aethiopicas (usually white and green blooms) grow their foliage throughout the winter and bloom in the spring.

The speckled leaved and colored bloomed ones (in general) go dormant in the winter, come up in the spring, and bloom in early summer.

They all like very moist, even boggy soil.

My experience with them is it can take several years in the ground for them to settle in and put on enough growth to bloom. Most of the aethiopicas like shade to partial shade, at least as far south as I am. The others like more sun, though I have them in partial shade too.

As far as the need to divide them, I really don't know, except that I have an elderly friend who grows the most beautiful aethiopicas you ever saw in a patch that she says has been there more than fifty years without ever having been divided. That makes it sound to me that they don't NEED to be divided, though they obviously can be, in order to increase plantings.

You don't say what kind you have, where they are planted, or how long you've had them. All of these things are major factors.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 6:19PM
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