Tropical plants add beautiful colors and textures to any landscape, and we are fortunate enough to be able to grow them here in Middle Tennessee. It’s hard to resist the exotic, brightly colored foliage and flowers of these plants, and we want to make sure that you’re making the most out of your investment. While tropical plants are a gorgeous addition to any landscape, they need a little extra love when the temps start dropping below 40 degrees at night.
We want you to enjoy your tropical plants for years to come. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to over-winter your plants for beautiful foliage in the spring and summer months.
Remove the Plant from the Ground or Pot
Carefully dig up the entire plant, keeping the entire root system and the bulb tuber intact. Do not remove the foliage at this stage.
If you damage a tuber while digging up the plant, discard that tuber, as it most likely will rot and not be viable.
Wash the Bulbs
Using a spray hose, carefully wash away excess dirt from the roots and the tubers, until the roots are free of soil and the bulbs are exposed.
Cure the Bulbs
Lay the bulbs and roots on a clean, dry surface to cure in a warm and dry, and dark area. Somewhere like your garden shed, basement, or garage would work.
Curing the bulbs takes several days and up to two weeks. A good indicator that your bulbs are cured is that the foliage begins really wilting and dying off. The roots will also begin to shrivel.
Remove Excess Foliage and Roots
Once the bulbs are fully dried, remove the excess foliage and roots so that you are left with just the brown tuber. The tuber will have eyes, much like a potato. Those eyes are where new growth will happen next year!
Store your bulbs!
Store your dry bulbs in a container filled with peat moss or vermiculite. Fill a container about 1/3 with peat moss or vermiculite, then place the bulbs about 1” apart from each other, and cover with more peat or vermiculite. Remember to label your bulbs to take the guesswork out of spring planting!
It is essential that these bulbs stay dry and undisturbed in a dark area. This process is to force the plant into dormancy, and if the bulbs become wet, too warm, or are exposed to light, they may sprout or rot. Ideally the temperature will hover from the 40s to the 60s Fahrenheit.
When you’re ready to plant your tropicals in the spring, simply remove from the pots and inspect the bulbs for any damage, shriveling, or rot. If the bulbs look healthy, remove them and plant them about 2” deep with the flat side down, and the eyes facing upwards for the fastest sprouting time.
Take some time to over-winter your tropical plant bulbs this spring. You’ll save some money and be rewarded with healthy, vibrant plants for years to come!