Over Wintering Colocasia

jodik_gwOctober 29, 2011

I grew my first Colocasia this past summer, and it was beautiful. Now, we're getting light frosts at night and it's time to start thinking about winter storage.

I do not have the room to move the giant pot indoors, so I would like to un-pot the corm and store it. I'm in zone 5b, and the Colocasia is growing inside an unheated greenhouse in a very large terra cotta pot.

How should I proceed? When should I dig the corm? It still has several large green leaves growing. Also, my home is extremely dry. Should I worry that the corm will dry out too much over winter?

What is the proper procedure for storing Colocasia bulbs in northern zones over winter? There's a lot of conflicting information floating around.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Jodi!! You've been quiet lately ... good to see you!

I would let it go dry until it started to wilt, then move it outside & let the frost kill the top back. Remove the top growth at that point & remove all the soil from the corm & set it on a piece of cardboard (indoors) for a week or so to dry out. Then, bury it in a cardboard box filled with sphagnum peat & store it in a cool dark place. Around the first of May (earlier if you are going to keep it in the greenhouse), pot it up so it's just below the soil line in a large pot and start giving it a little water to wake it up. A sunny location indoors (if possible) or the greenhouse is best because they don't do much until soil temps are above 60*.

I know the forum undisputed heavyweight champ (Filix) grows & stores them, so maybe he'll weigh in with what he does over winter. I have one in a large pot that is going dry now in the garage. I'm just going to store it in the pot (basement) after it's dry until spring. I have a line on a plant for next year that I HOPE will top what Felix has been able to do. Look out, Filix - I'm comin' for you! ;-)


    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 12:24PM
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lrvjim(7 to 8)

Not sure which colocasia you have Jodi, but just to add to Al's comment, Tony Avent of Plant Delights says that some of the newer cultivars don't form large tubers and (I'm quoting here)... if dug in winter, cannot be stored dry due to a lack of adequate food reserves. These small-tubered elephant ears are best over wintered in containers in a cool basement or garage that remains 15-20 degrees above freezing

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 7:42AM
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I have Colocasia esculenta here for more than 10 years in the ground. During our winter they are frosted to the enlarged stem that has developed over the years. I can break off the stem at that time and store it over winter in a cool dark place. Planted in the ground after the soil has warmed it will grow roots. I can also dig up the whole massive root and divide it for more plants. When originally planted these were from baseball sized round tubers that I have never been able to produce in the same form from my plants. Al

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:56AM
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Thanks, Everyone! I appreciate the help!

Hi, Al! Good to see you, too! :-) Good to see you, as well, Calistoga! :-) I hope you guys are faring well!

This is definitely a large corm... I can't recall the exact variety name at the moment, but I bought it in early spring as a softball sized, round-ish tuber and I potted it in a mixture of half 511 and half potting soil. It grew beautifully all summer, popping out a set of giant green leaves that filled the back third of my small greenhouse!

It's been very enjoyable to watch, but now it's time to store until next spring.

I only wish I could grow it directly in the garden... but I think we have too many interested critters, such as moles and squirrels, and our winters would kill it for certain.

The pot is way too huge to move. My only option, really, is to un-earth the thing and move it into the basement.

Thank you for all the great advice!

Would pine shavings in a shoe box work as a storage medium? I don't know that I can get my hands on any more sphagnum moss.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:05AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Jodi! It's great to see you back!
My gut says No on the pine shaving...but I'll defer to Al.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:50AM
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I wrap mine in newspaper - it works very well. To get an early start in Spring, I pot my tubers in containers barely large enough to hold the tuber, then put 'em behind my wood burning stove - they think it's Summer!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Wait! Let me pinch myself and see if this is real.

Yup that hurt. Jodi, what is going on? So happy to see you!

I love this thread because I very much needed it. I just pulled mine out from the ground, and one that has been growing in my pond in the water, and did not know what to do.

I appreciate this. Right now the one I pulled from the soil is in a pot that would fit its massive roots on the cold porch. It has been snowed on and slept a night in 20 degree temps! The leaves are dying now or dead.

The other had been set into a pond and grew beautifully. It is a Black ear one. I stuck that one in the cellar with the long water roots.

My question is this??????????

If I supply NO moisture at all and just wrap paper or put into a box of dry peat, won't the bulb desicate?
I had thsi happen before that by the time winter is over, the buld had completely dehydrated to power and squashed inwards.

Thanks so much and again, Hi Jodi:-)

I will be back with pics so you can see what they look like.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 3:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The peat moss is so low in pH that it does double duty as an effective anti-fungal. I've only ever stored bulbs, corms, tubers over winter in sphagnum peat moss, so I'm unsure how the wood shavings would work.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 4:10PM
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Hey, Josh! Hey, Mike! Good to "see" you guys! :-)

I know, I know... I've been missing in action for a while! Autumn is alright, but I get rather depressed as winter starts rolling in. I tend to hibernate earlier than I should! :-)

Ok... so, "no" to the wood shavings... I'll have to see if I have any sphagnum moss anywhere that isn't too moist. When it comes to mosses, I get a little confused. I keep a bale of stuff in the garage to mix in mediums and such, and a different type in the house for orchid use. I also use it when starting some types of cuttings, to wrap the stems in.

That was my worry, too, Mike... dessication. My house is so dry, and I don't want the bulb/corm to shrink over winter, or dry out too much.

A couple of years ago, I wrapped some Canna rhizomes in newspaper, after cleaning them up, and stored them in a box in the basement. What didn't shrink away over winter really didn't grow very well the following spring. I'm not a big Canna fan, so it didn't bother me to lose some... but I want to avoid that with this Colocasia. I really do like this plant!

Gosh, I hate to open a bale of moss just for one bulb. Maybe I could store the bulb in newspaper in a cabinet inside the kennel... that space is always damp! It might be too damp, actually.

Well, I probably have another week or two to figure out this dilemma. I just know if I open the bale of moss, the mice are gonna have a field day with the remainder of the bale!

Let me know what you end up doing with yours, Mike. I'm interested in how you store them for winter.

Thanks to everyone who offered advice! I wonder if I could un-pot it, prune back the roots, re-pot it into a smaller pot, and keep it in the basement along with my other dormant and semi-dormant plants? They kind of limp through winter in the basement, with less moisture, lower light levels, and a lower temperature still above freezing.

I should know this. It shouldn't be such a dilemma... I'm just having a difficult time transitioning into colder weather.

Take Care, Everyone!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 10:29AM
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This guy explains it well...

Here is a link that might be useful: Video

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Hey Jodik!

Guess what? lol

I have never failed using Al's methods, properly that is, with questions or without..So this is one of those without moments..lol

I am just going to do it his way and see what happens.
I am going to get a bag of MG spagnum peat and a couple of shoe boxes.
Then this weekend, I am going to cut all the leaves back and clean off the roots on the one that was in the ground.
I will place the bulb into the box and surround it with peat and put it in the darkest coolest place in the cellar until spring. I will probably replant it in Feb. or beginning of March since I think 6 months in hiding just seems too long.
There are many people that don't have to wait that long to replant their bulbs which is why I think they have great success.
I figure 6 months of no moisture at all could dessicate anything! lol
I lost my DR and a few Plumeria to this method, withholding moisture that is . I was told to withold water until I see leaves start to appear as the days start to lengthen. By then, the roots were dessicated on most of my plants in darkness.

Ok, I do have a couple of questions.
Al, just how long do you leave your bulbs like that buried in peat in a box? You give no moisture at all until they are ready to plant again?

As for the other, the one use to growing in the pond, because the pot is so small, I will just leave that one in the pot and stick it in a bag once the soil dries out and the leaves die off.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Have a great day my friend

As for the video, thanks for that Ctnchpr. I have still yet to watch that.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 9:09AM
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I will definitely follow Al's advice, as I know it's sage advice. I trust him. :-)

Mike, I've had that problem, too... I've awaited the expected new growth after a winter of dry rest, withholding water, and I've been very disappointed to tip the pot and find dessicated corms or rhizomes and dead roots. I would expect some of the roots to die off as the plant could not support them all... but a dormancy shouldn't cause the corms to dry out completely. Either we have drier basements than everyone else, or something is simply wrong with the process we're told to use. I'm not entirely sure.

I've always avoided growing plants that had to be dug up and stored over winter. I always have too much going on to add the extra work to my list. Someone gave me some beautiful Cannas, so I thought I'd give it a try. I grew them in large tubs, and they were beautiful, as Cannas go... they're not my favorite flower. I dutifully dug them out of the tubs in late autumn, cleaned them up, wrapped them in newspaper, and stored them, layered in a box in the basement. Come spring, they were a mess. What hadn't dried out did not perform as it should have. I gave up.

I did grow some pretty green Glads once, but I did so with the caveat that they were goners after that season, because I was not going through the hassle of digging and storing only to find dessicated corms the following spring. If it can't be grown as a houseplant over winter, or it can't survive our frigid winters, I don't care to grow it.

But then I received this Colocasia... and it was a lovely plant! I enjoyed it all summer! I think its sheer size might help it retain some moisture, but I really don't want to take the chance. I'd like to properly store it so I know it'll survive the winter. Sphagnum peat it is, then. And if I must open a new bale for a small amount, that's what I shall do!

I keep meaning to email you the link to my photo album, Mike... I've added some new photos. I should do that right now, while I'm thinking about it. :-)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Well, I imagine there are lots of reasons not to do this, but I bring mine in, stick it in a north window and it actually survies pretty decently.Digging things up never works for me. In the spring/summer it goes back out on my roof- takes a while to thrive, but comes back eventually.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 6:04PM
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I would happily bring the whole thing inside, pot and all, if I could find the muscle to do so, and the space to keep it! I've got it planted in an impossibly huge container, and I live in an upstairs studio apartment. The windows I do have are filled to bursting with Amaryllids and other assorted plants in a myriad of pots and receptacles! It's an addiction...

It looks like I have no choice but to dig it up.

I can't see any reason not to bring the whole pot indoors if you have the space to keep it, though. If it works for you, I wouldn't change a thing! :-)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 3:37PM
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