Repost: Saving Elephant Ears & Canna, Part 2


Maple Leaves

Changing leaves and cooling temperatures can only mean one thing.  It’s time to complete the saving process.  By now, elephant ears and canna have been drying out for about a week — and now I have to get them ready for their long winter’s nap.

The final step is pretty much the same for both elephant ears and canna.  You will need peat moss, some kind of storage containers (like brown paper bags), a shovel, and a room that stays relatively dry and evenly cool so that the plants can be lulled into a deep sleep without freezing.  If the final storage location is too damp or warm, the plants never get a chance to rest and they are at risk of rotting away — and after so much work getting to this point, that would be a shame.

Step 1: Where canna are concerned, I double up two brown paper bags and label the outside.  I then put a shovel or two of peat moss in the bottom of the bag so the corms have a nesting area.

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Step 2: I then place the corms (stem and all) into the bag.

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Step 3: I tend to really pack the bags.  I’m not sure if this is correct, but it’s likely that I do this for the sake of space, since I have so many corms to pack away.  Once the bag is full, I then add more peat moss to the bag, shaking the bag so that the peat moss settles and covers the corms.  (Note: In the previous post, I mentioned that I dried them upside down, based on a single sentence from one of my gardening books.  But for this step, I have to place the corms down because I can’t figure out a way to cover them while they’re upside down.  Nevertheless, the results have still been successful.)

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Step 4: Finally, I have something that looks like this.

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Now for the elephant ears.  Last year, I stored the Elephant Ear bulbs in a plastic crate lined with a plastic bag.  I’m not sure if this had to do with my loss of energy and wanting to finish the task, needing to save space, or just running out of bags.  Either way, it worked.   By the way, don’t be surprised if your elephant ears have continued to grow since you dug them up.

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Step 1: Once the crate is lined with a plastic bag, add a few shovels of peat moss into it to give the bulbs a place to rest.

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Step 2: Load the elephant ear bulbs (stem and all) into the peat moss-filled crate.  Again, I tend to pack a lot in there.  Then add peat moss to cover the bulbs.

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Step 3: Ultimately, this is what I am left with.  All that’s left to do now is carry everything into its Safe Room.

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The Final Step: Here is the Safe Room — a cement bunker/bomb shelter hidden behind Joe’s  closet in the bedroom.  Now, anyone who knows me or who has read previous posts understands that I have an active imagination.  As my summer plants continue to live, enclosed behind the closet, my mind races back and forth between Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher and the classic sci-fi film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  So far, the Safe Room is protecting Joe and me.  So far. . .

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by The Belmont Rooster on October 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    GREAT POST! The Cannas will overwinter in the ground here, but I will have to dig the Colocasia today since they were ZAPPED pretty good.

    Reply

    • Lucky you! I wish the cannas (and all of the other tropicals) could survive in the ground here. But that is not to be – unless I get some help from climate change — but who would want that? Happy digging.

      Reply

  2. Reblogged this on A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance-Long Island and commented:
    Some excellent tips and information!

    Reply

  3. Wow… do you ever have a lot to save! I pulled my four elephant ears today… they are waiting in the garage to dry… Thanks for all the tips.. this will be a first.

    Reply

  4. You’ve got quite the collection there, what a helpful post! I had to laugh at the elephant ear storage, mine go into a plastic lined milk crate too! I thought I had some brilliant, unique, method. I guess great minds think alike ;)
    It will still be a while before my bulbs get dug…. I’m not quite as organized.

    Reply

  5. I need to cut everything back, but I don’t have to do anything special. I will say that occasionally we get a very cold snap and I will lose the plants. I might want to think about your method just to be better organized. I love the safe room! You have a very large number of plants to protect, and it must be so exciting when it starts to warm up and they are ready to get a little drink of sunshine! :-)

    Reply

    • Hi Debra. I’m not sure if I’m organized — I just think smaller steps keep the task from being so overwhelming. That being said, I’ve made a decision this year to not save as much as in the past. It’s gotten to be a bit much. But I do LOVE the spring awakening!

      Reply

  6. Posted by Greg on April 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Kevin;
    I guess you thought from my first post that I’m just just some weirdo freak that doesn’t know diddley about elephant ears, and that may be true, but I started out with one given to me by a friend and the first year didn’t do much at all but the second year, flourished with 3 huge leaves. the next year, a strange plant appeared in my garden, right where the E.E. was planted and then it died off and the E.E. came up and produced 5 huge leaves. This spring there is now 4 strange plants that have a flower of sorts, and I fully expect to have 4 elephant ear plants this summer. The mother plant has two flower like stamens growing where the E.E. plant was. I have never dug out and stored my elephant ears and they have been in the ground for 4 winters now. I live in the Kootenay mountains, where winter is usually 5 or 6 months long and we get about 3-4 ft of snow. I still have a foot of snow in most of my yard.
    If these are not elephant ear plants, could you please tell me what they are?
    I don’t see where I can post a picture. Could you please respond with a way that I can upload a picture to you?
    Thanks, Greg Clarke

    Reply

    • Hi Greg. Just getting caught up. I don’t think you’re a weirdo or a freak, but I am interested in seeing your plant. I will contact you privately with my email so you can send me a photo. Be well!

      Reply

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