Frost is a four letter word to a gardener. (Ok. Not really, but you know what I mean.)
There are many tender plants that need to be lifted BEFORE frost.
There are also plants that must be “bitten” by frost,
and then taken inside AFTER the first frost.
This count-down is not quite as dramatic as the “Countdown to 32″/freezing
that I blogged about last fall, but it is an important time for bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers.
I finally wrote a BEFORE and an AFTER list inside the cover of my gardening journal.
Here is my ‘rule of thumb”. (Gold Nugget is what this was called when I taught biology.)
If mostly water (turgor) holds up the plant, it needs to be bitten and wilted down by Mr. Frost.
Also: Does the plant look “done” for the season? Did it bloom weeks ago and is the foliage wilting down? DONE.
I know this is too simplistic. What it means is, if you cut down plants with juicy stems you will be hauling in a lot of water. The plant needs to bring in nutrients and drain its own water out to start dormancy.
Also, frost seals the tissues to prevent rot. Think of it as a “cold cauterizing.”
When the time is right . Dig up the bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes.
Clean off the soil, wash, dry and store in labeled bags with dry peat moss.
Here are MY lists for ZONE 7.
BEFORE: Callas/Zantedeschias (Hot Chocolate can stay out, but bring one in as your stock plant just in case), Acidantheras, Glodiolas ( babies and mamas)
AFTER: Elephant Ears/Calocasias, Dahlias, Tuberoses (babies only)
Your lists will be different based on your HARDINESS ZONE.
I always err on the side of caution and bring in some of each of my special plants to use as stock plants.
Wet winters can be as bad as cold ones because roots rot.
1. Before or After?
2. Before or After?
3. Before or After?
4. Before or After?
(Answers =1 dahlias/after , 2 callas/before, 3 glads/before, 4 elephant ears/after)
FOLLOW the FLOWER to FROST.