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Can you store the elephant ear bulbs for more than 1 year without replanting them? I had about 15 areas with elephant ears and at the end of last season ended up with about 100 tubers. I couldn't use them all.
It is very hard to store bulbs and tubers more than a season but it can be done. You may loose a few but here is an excerpt from a bulb company.
Most flower companies that sell bulbs will mark them with a best before date. While the flower bulb shelf life may last for more than one season when stored properly, be aware that the quality of the flower decreases with each season that the bulb does not go into the ground.
Here is a link with some information on this subject.
How do I store my elephant ear bulbs?
By David from Nashville, TN
I brought them in in a laundry bag, and hung it up on a nail on the wall. I have so many more this year I will have to find somewhere else to store them or give them as gifts.
You can use an onion bag, or any bag with holes in it, or any place they stay dry and get air.
I love Elephant Ears, and I can't wait to plant them again next year!
I dig up my elephant ear tubers each fall. Now I read about those that have a problem with their remaining tubers in the ground keep coming back each spring. Why dig them up each fall if they survive the winters in the ground?
Hardiness Zone: 5a
I *think* it depends on your zone. I have one near a picture window that comes back every year, too (I'm in 7a). I just looked at a hardiness zone map, and your zone gets quite a bit colder than mine (-15 to -20 vs 5 to 0). If you want to give it a try, I'd suggest leaving only a couple in the ground for the first year. So you don't lose all of them if it's just too cold. Best of luck!
Do we tear the stem off of the elephant ear bulb after we have dug it up or leave it to completely dry?
Make a clean cut toward the base of the bulb(be sure not to tear) leaving maybe a inch or two from bulb!
In the tropics where I live we never have to store our bulbs or take them out. The plants grow year-round here on the islands. However, it is easy to store your bulbs for the winter and plant them again in spring.
We run ours over with the lawn mower in the fall (like just recently) and they keep coming back every year, including in the place I don't want them and dug them up. They are hearty buggers and in Pittsburgh hard to kill no matter what you do!!
I store my bulbs in a paper bag in the garage.
Many people do not dig up their elephant ear tubers/bulbs but if that is what you are doing, you should trim the foliage before drying but it seems the most important thing is not to damage the bulb or they will rot over winter.
Here is an excellent site for complete instructions on how to store your bulbs.
I dug up my elephant ear bulbs today and it appears that the original bulb that I planted has rotted or gone soft. Since this is my first year doing this, I'm not sure what else I should be seeing. Is the portion at the bottom of each stalk a new bulb?
This is called a tuber.
I have been an owner of an elephant ear for the last year. It was my first try, and I left my pot outside all winter. However I did cut it back, but like I said before I didn't know to put it up in a dry area. It's very devastating because I love my plants!
You can remove some mushy spots at the top of the bulb. If there is damage in other areas, the bulb must be discarded.
Unless the bulbs are either total mush (look, smell, feel rotted all the way through--like you touch them in the smoosh between your fingers) or are totally dry, black, and literally disintegrate in your hands, they should grow back.
You don't say which variety you have (there are several) but that should not matter (even the loss of the main root usually does not kill these plants).
These are very hardy (at least where I am in Pittsburgh) and not much can be done to kill them.
I would suggest that when in doubt about anything to do with a new plant (or even an older plant) check out what USDA zone it grows best in so you can know better what climate changes are needed.
Everyone has given good advice about gently removing all the black or soft spots to see if anything is salvageable.
If any good roots are left, you can let it dry out a little (not in direct sunlight) and then try planting it in new soil or even in the ground.
Try the same thing with the bulb you received from your friend as there may be enough of the root system to survive.
Freeze and excess water root rot are the two worst things to happen to elephant ears.
If neither of these things work you may have to look for new bulbs. I have found several types at Walmart and Ace Hardware for $5-6.
Here are a couple of sites that have a lot of information about caring for elephant ears and what to do if they are damaged.
I live in Indiana and therefore must dig up my elephant ears every fall and store in an attached garage. This has worked well for me for several years, but this winter was brutally cold. I'm sure they were in temperatures below freezing for several days at a time. Should I assume they're dead and buy new? I'm on an extremely tight budget, but I'd really hate it if I wound up with none coming up this year.
The same thing happened to me but I'm going to try planting them anyway.
If they didn't make it, big grocery stores should have taro bulbs in the veggie section. They don't get as big as the elephant ears do but 3 or 4 in a pot make a nice showing and they aren't nearly as expensive. Taro is used in Hawaii to make poi.
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How can I save bulbs from Caladiums and Elephant Ears to use next year? My elephant ears are still huge.
Hardiness Zone: 7a
Elaine from Charlottesville, VA
You can use the same method to store both types of tubers over winter. As soon as the tops turn yellow and start to die back (usually the first or second fall frost), carefully lift the plants out of the ground. Go ahead and cut the stems back to the tubers, but leave the roots and any soil attached intact. Allow the tubers to cure for a week or two and then clean off the remaining soil and trim the roots. Dusting the tubers with a fungicide before storage is optional. An easy way to do this is to shake them in a paper bag filled with a bit of dust. The tubers can be layered in a box filled with dry peat, sand, sawdust or vermiculite. Stored in a dry room at temperatures between 50-55ºF. Check on them periodically. If they appear to be shriveling due to moisture loss, sprinkle them with a few drops of water.
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You should wait to pull the bulbs out until they are done for the season. So long as they are still green and leafy they are still making food for the bulb. Once they are done, cut the foliage off and store the bulbs in a cool dry place. They can be wrapped in newspaper, stored in dry peat moss or saw dust would work too. Do not allow them to freeze though. Once the ground is thawed and the risk of frost is past you can replant them. (10/09/2006)
I store Caladium, Dahlias, and Cannas all in peat moss in the basement over the winter. Had them for years. (10/20/2006)