by K. Marc Teffeau, Ph.D.
Fall Fun The change of season is now becoming apparent. Fall has arrived and there is a certain “nip” and fragrance in the air. The days are growing shorter and the deciduous trees and shrubs are coloring up. Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours of October signal the time to start preparing the home landscape and garden for winter. If you had plantings of summer bulbs like dahlias, gladiolus, tuberous begonia and cannas in the landscape, now is the time to dig them up and store them for winter. These plant parts require winter protection if they are going to be used year after year. As soon as frost blackens the top of dahlias, cut them back, dig them up and let them dry in the sun for a day. Once dry, carefully clean off the excess soil and store the tubers in f lats of peat moss or crumpled newspaper. Gladiolus corms should be lifted with the tops on, and allowed to ripen or cure for several weeks.
Freshly dug gladiolus corms and cormels should be allowed to dry in the sun for a day before storing for winter. Discard any plants that appear diseased, crippled or mottled. The best conditions for curing are temperatures of 85° to 90°, with a relative humidity between 40% and 50%. Circulating air through and around the corms by means of a fan will hasten the curing process, which usually takes about two weeks. When they are dry, separate the old shriveled corms from the new ones and discard them. Remove 81