Any time a gardener shares stories of all the bulbs they dig up in the fall and store for the winter, I shake my head and think, “That seems to be a lot of work each fall. Too much work for me!”
I love Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta), but I draw the line when it comes to growing them because of one important “need” – you have to dig the bulbs each fall and find a suitable place to store them!
The visual impact of some of the fancier types of elephant ears is striking. Group them with other bold-foliaged plants such as Ricinus (castor bean plant), yucca and cannas to achieve visual drama. But just before the first fall frost, you must dig up the tubers and rinse off all the soil. Cut back the leaf stalks to 4-inch stubs, then leave the tubers on drying racks in a cool room for several weeks. Once dry, they can be packed in peat moss and stored at 50 to 55 degrees for the rest of the winter. Again I repeat….this is too much work for me!
A reader contacted me about Gladiolus corms and wondered what he should do with all the smaller corms. A corm is a swollen stem base that is modified into a mass of storage tissue. A corm does not have visible storage rings when cut in half. This distinguishes it from a true bulb. According to the Factsheet from the University of Illinois Extension, “Bulbs and More”, the corm contains a basal plate (bottom of bulb from which roots develop), thin tunic and a growing point. Examples of plants that develop from corms include gladiolus, crocus, and autumn crocus.
When gladiolus corms are dug in the fall, they should be separated into well-developed corms, to be stored for replanting. The newly dug corms will have cormels that are pea size formed around the top of the old corm. The remains of the old corm will be directly beneath the newly formed corms. When the corm is cleaned up and the old stem removed, the growing point of the corm will be evident. The cormels can be saved and replanted in the back of the garden until they reach flowering size.
Do you think you will find any gladiolus in my garden? Nope! I think they are beautiful in someone else’s garden, but not mine. I guess I am just a bit lazy when it comes to that part of gardening.
Interested in reading more about bulbs? Fact Sheet HYG-1244-92, “Summer Flowering Bulbs” and Fact Sheet HYG-1237-98, “Growing Hardy Bulbs”, can both be found at
I spent an afternoon in my potting shed this week putting things back where they belong. I haven’t cleaned and oiled my tools yet, but that is on the list of things to do. As the snow fell I made notes about this year’s vegetable garden and stored the journal away for the 2015 growing season. As I got ready to head back to the house, I realized that the door latch was frozen and I was locked in the potting shed! Thank goodness I had my phone in my pocket and my husband was at home! Of course my husband thought it was pretty funny. Imagine that!
Submitted by Faye Mahaffey
OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer