Digging the tropicals, finally

Because it's been so mild, there has not been any urgency in digging up the tropicals. Yes I dug and brought into the garage some of the papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) and the upright elephant ears (Alocasia macrorrhiza) quite a while ago, but the plants with tubers or rhizomes I've not worried about. Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta and others) and various cannas have been fine out there -- the ground has not yet frozen.

With temperatures falling well below freezing and not coming much up above it again for a few days beginning tonight, I had to start some digging yesterday. Above is a bucket of mixed Colocasia tubers, straight from the ground.


Another bucket of one of my favorite dark red stemmed Colocasias, 'Sangria':

I planted this one out rather late last year so it didn't get as large as I had hoped, but there are still several good chunks I can plant next year.

A large tub of Canna 'Paton' too, one of my favorite cannas because of the way it holds its leaves:

All of these things are a muddy mess, so for me the first step is to clean them up a bit.

Into a bucket of water they go!

The mixed colocasia look so nice:

The water is quite muddy, but that doesn't matter.

The 'Sangria' went in next:

A few inches of muck is building up on the bottom of the water bucket, but this water is still fine for cleaning. The canna go in:

And come out:

I don't worry about trimming the roots, but I may do it a bit. Probably not.

I used to spray these things with water from the hose to clean them (when I did this earlier in the season before the hoses were all stored), but that wastes so much water. A couple of gallons in the bucket cleaned three different containers of the "roots". Much less mess too although I do wonder why I tackled this splashy job in the basement...

The remaining Canna 'Paton' chunk was much too large for the bucket so I wanted to chop it in half:

I couldn't find my spade though. I'm not sure if I left it outside in the yard somewhere, or if it got moved somewhere in the garage that I can't see it. (I've been rearranging and cleaning it, converting it into a workshop.)

No worries, as it's not like this task is finished yet. I still have the biggest Colocasia to clean:

Plus there are a dozen or so plants outdoors that I'll need to dig later today too.

I should point out that there's really no reason that I need to clean these other than it makes me feel better and creates less mess later. I've found that almost any way I store elephant ears and cannas over the winter results in survival. The only rule is that they must not freeze.


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Anonymous –   – (December 30, 2015 at 2:14 PM)  

It seems like leaving them as you dug them out, dirty and in a bucket, would be less traumatic for the plants. Am I wrong on that?

Alan  – (December 30, 2015 at 2:34 PM)  

GardenQueen: Maybe, but these are tough. I'd much rather have a clean tuber/rhizome to work with than have a bunch of crumbly dirt that will be falling off all winter long.

outlawgardener  – (December 31, 2015 at 9:13 AM)  

I'm too lazy to dig and clean so they're grown in pots that live in the greenhouse in the winter. The cannas go dormant and look a bit ratty in the winter but come back much earlier than those left in the ground outside.

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