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TROPICAL PLANTS FOR THE WINTER
If you plan to save your tropical lily, stop fertilizing in
early fall (Sept.). Tuber formation is encouraged by cooler
temperatures, shorter days, and lack of nutrients. After
first frost, pull and bareroot the lily. Vigorously hose off
all mud around the root mass to locate the tubers. Tubers
are globular, and vary in size up to 2" in diameter. Trim
off all roots, foliage, and debris, leaving only the
smallest, immature leaves. Set tubers aside to dry off
Next, pack the tubers in clean, damp (not wet) sand, i.e.
sand that has been draining for at least 24 hours, placing
them in an airtight container. (Old yogurt or cottage cheese
tubs work well.) Make sure the tubers are surrounded on all
sides by at least 2" sand. Store the containers in a cool,
dark area. ideally 50-60o. Do NOT store below 45o. Check on
the tubers every month and discard any mushy, rotting ones.
If there is mold but the tuber is still firm, wash it off
and let it dry before returning it to new clean sand. NOTE:
A light dusting with a garden fungicide will help retard
mold and fungus.
OTHER METHODS: Some people simply bag their lilies (pot,
dirt, and all) and stash them in a cool, dark basement area.
Success has also been reported storing tubers in distilled
water instead of sand. Other folks try all these methods and
do not succeed ...
Late March through early April, plant the tubers in
a small pot or tray full of sand with the top of the tuber
showing. Be sure to wash off any fungicide you may have used
in the fall. Place the pot in warm (65-75o) water with 3" of
water above the crown. Place them under a grow light or in a
sunny window. The tubers should sprout in a few days. As
they grow, repot the plants in larger containers and
fertilize them. Then drop them into your pond late May/early
June. Be careful- if the water temperature of your pond is
lower than the water you used for sprouting, the lilies may
go dormant and lose several weeks of growing time. Two
gallon pots work well for normal-sized lilies. Mix heavy
soil with sand for good root penetration and easier
repotting. A 1-2" layer of pea gravel or sand on top
prevents fish from upsetting the dirt, but be careful to let
the top of the tuber show so new growth is not stunted.
TARO, SPIDER LILIES AND OTHER BULBS:
Store your Cannas, Taros and Spider Lilies like
other summer garden bulbs. After first frost, pull and bare
root them. Hose off all mud, and trim roots and foliage.
Store bulbs in moist, not wet, peat moss, and store in a
cool, dark place.
The ideal storage temperature is 50-60 degrees F. Do NOT
store below 45 degrees F.
growing them at room temperature in a warm, sunny window or
under a grow light. Pot up in containers with bottom holes
using a mix of heavy soil and sand. Water well and keep
moist, or set the containers in a tray of water. DO NOT
submerge the pots below the bulb until it has produced at
least 3-4 standing leaves or it will rot. Bring them out in
the spring after the last frost (early May). Introduce
potted plants slowly back to their previous depth.
WINTER CAMP FOR TROPICALS
Most hardy plants prefer to be left out in the
cold, just like their ‘terrestrial friends’.
Leave them outside at their appropriate depths, where they
can experience winter dormancy. On the other hand, many
tropical emergent plants can be brought in for the winter
and treated like house plants. Umbrella Palms, Taro, Spider
Lilies and more!! Those of us who love our watergardens find
we MISS them in the winter. Set up trays and tubs where
plants can survive...OR...set up an entire container garden
- the works! Keep fish, plants and scavengers in a place you
can spend time... and enjoy!
emergents do not need to be submerged. The goal is to keep
them perpetually VERY moist or wet. You can keep pots in
trays or tubs of water, as long as the plants can draw water
from holes in the pots.
Keeping an indoor water garden is a bit more tricky. If you
want plants to look great all winter, provide a ‘greenhouse’
environment by using grow lights for them and a fan to keep
them strong. If you use the indoor pond method, be sure to
bring in some smaller fish- for amusement, yes, and also to
move the water and prevent stagnation!
Set up a small pump and add the soothing sound of trickling
water- a gurgling rock, or a frothy fountain!
BE SURE YOUR CONTAINERS ARE
PLANT CARE -
Trim plants aggressively before you bring them in for the
winter. Most of these emergent plants will renew their
foliage annually, so don’t hesitate to “whack-em hard” ! The
goal is not to grow your plants and watch them
bloom, but more simply to just hold them over until spring.
The plants are not as active in the winter, so do not
fertilize until late winter/early spring when the days begin
to lengthen, and do not divide or repot until that time.
PESTS - Wipe
or hose plants off and check dense foliage for signs of
pests before you bring in your plants! Aphids, spider mites
and scale are commonproblems on indoor plants- treat
accordingly with insecticidal soap, pond-friendly aphid
spray, and/or light dormant oil. Remember the goal...
Very few aquatic plants do well indoors without adding some
form of auxiliary lighting. Provide the proper light for
your indoor water plants. If you use incandescent grow
lights, be sure the light source is within 3 feet of the
plant, and fluorescent lighting must be within 1 foot.
Installing a metal halide or sodium lamp will provide the
best light for an indoor pond- In the correct position, the
light will “fan out” to reach all of the plants in your
Be sure to provide 10 - 16 hours of light for your plants.
Although aquatic plants will survive at 50 F or above, the
ideal water temperature for tropical plants is 70 F and up
for your plants to thrive and look good in your indoor pond.
WIND - Outside
in nature, plants produce a hormone that keeps them strong
while fighting air currents and wind. Inside, plants can get
“leggy” and weak. Provide a fan to keep them strong.
plants for the winter provides a few “perks” for the
household: It adds humidity, provides amusement (and
sometimes - yes- food) for the cats, and occasionally some
excitement to see a premature dragonfly hatching or perhaps
a random bloom!
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