Moving with Bulbs

jfeistNovember 7, 2006

Hi I live in Georgia but am moving to Virginia in 3 weeks. I want to take my Elephant Ear plants, Cannas, and Iris's. I want to know how to move them, and when do I plant them in the ground? I would appreciate any help you can offer.


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Hi Jodie,

If your Iris are the Tall Bearded Iris, you can just dig them up, wash off all the dirt, cut down the foliage to about 6", and the roots can also be trimmed to about 4"... let them dry completely before packing them up in a box. I've had Iris survive the winter like this in the unheated garage, so I imagine they should do fine if you plant them later when you get to Virginia.

Cannas... not sure if they are hardy there, but if not, you can always store them in a cool dark area until spring planting. Not sure about the elephant ears, but hopefully someone else will have more information for you, Good Luck with your move! :)


    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 2:36PM
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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

The Elephant Ears are not reliably hardy outdoors in Virginia, you would have to dig them up at this time anyway if you wanted to keep them for replanting in the spring. After you dig them up, shake the dirt off and store them over the winter in a paper bag filled with excelsior or sawdust, preferably in an unheated basement or garage that won't freeze. I would leave the foliage attached to the bulb until it has dried up (so all the sugars in the leaves can move back into the bulb), then pull it off. Others might advise you to cut the foliage off right away after you dig them up, and this is fine, too - certainly they are easier to store right off, but I like to get that last little bit of energy back into the bulb. You can plant them out once danger of frost has passed in the spring - mid to late April depending on where in Virgina you are going.

Treat the cannas the same way for this winter and plant them out in the spring. Cannas, however, seem to be hardy for the most part in Virgina, so you should be able to leave them in the ground from year to year, just cut the foliage back after it gets killed by front each fall.

Maria's advice on the Irises, since it's a move-them-or-lose-them situation, is good - pack them up the same way you do the Elephant Ears and cannas. Of course, mid-summer is the optimum time for moving iris, so you'll just have to be careful to not let the rhizomes get totally dried up before you can put them out in the spring. Keep them as cool as possible above freezing. I would NOT suggest keeping them in the refrigerator as the ethylene gas that is constantly being given off by fruits and vegetables can harm the rhizomes.

- Steve

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 8:30AM
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Hi, Thank you so very much for your help!!! I couldn't leave my elephant plants behind. This year and last they bloomed at least 10 times, last year one bloomed 15 times. I appreciate the advice, I was afraid I would do the wrond thing. I do not have a green thumb as hard as I have tried, but I do enjoy my plants. In NV I tried to grow plants and was unable probably due to the soil. When I moved here to GA, the neighbors donated plants to me. I also had a garden, it was amazing. Well thank you both for you advice.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 5:17AM
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