Protecting Bulbs

Proper winter care for Daffodil bulbs and Cannas

By: Sandy Feather ©2010
Penn State Extension

Q. I have a patch of daffodils and daylilies that are starting to come up.  What can I do to keep them from freezing this winter?

A. It is very common for spring-flowering bulbs to push up foliage during mild fall and early winter weather. While some of the foliage that is exposed to very cold weather may have brown tips, your daffodils and daylilies should bloom normally next spring and summer since they are hardy in our climate. If it makes you feel better, you can mulch those beds once the ground has frozen.

Snow and cold visits daffodils in the Spring

Straw, shredded leaves (never whole leaves) or evergreen boughs work well. If we could count on reliable snow cover, you could forego the mulch. Snow is a great insulator, as evidenced by the superb growth and performance of many herbaceous plants after the snowy winter of 2009-10.


FAQ on Canna Bulbs

Q. I planted cannas this year for the first time. I understand that they will not overwinter outside. When should I dig them up and how do I store them?

A. Cannas are not winter hardy in our area. Let a light frost or two kill back the foliage. Cut the stalks to about six inches, then dig the rhizomes up and brush off any soil that clings to them, but do not wash them. Since this is the first time you have grown cannas, be prepared to dig up larger clumps than you remember planting, especially varieties with green foliage. Those with red or variegated foliage do not increase as quickly.  Do not divide the clumps until you are ready to plant them next spring.

Cannas blooming in Summer

Pack the clumps in slightly moistened (NOT dripping wet!) peat moss or sawdust. Avoid piling the clumps on top of one another. Store the rhizomes in a cool, dry area away from sunlight, such your basement.

When to Divide Cannas

Divide the rhizomes next spring. Make sure that each division has at least one growing point. Pot some of them up six to eight weeks before the last expected frost - Memorial Day, to be on the safe side - and get them growing indoors to get a jump on the season. Save some to start directly in the ground after Memorial Day to extend the season of bloom. And donít forget to share the extras with family and friends.


Deer resistant flower bulbs

Planting Potted Tulips

How to fertilize daffodils


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