Before or After?

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.



Thomas Edison Dahlia

1.  Before  or  After?

Hot Chocolate Calla

2. Before or After?

Priscilla Gladiola

3.  Before or After?

Featured Image -- 378
Mojito Elephant Ear

4. Before or After?


(Answers =1 dahlias/after , 2 callas/before, 3 glads/before, 4 elephant ears/after)






Amazed by a Spadix

I had to divide and conquer some Mojito Elephant Ear plants/ Calocasia esculenta.


They had grown so many roots that they filled up the filter basin for the Koi pond.


Instead of water flowing back into the pond, it was flowing out onto the ground.

I am so glad I was outside working and heard the top pump sucking air.

When I arrived at the pond, it was half empty.

A massive fish kill was diverted.  Whew!

OK,  back to the Mojitos.


The plants were as tall as I am, so to handle them for re-potting,

I had to remove some foliage and blooms.

I brought the blooms inside for a closer look.

This form of flower is referred to as a spathe and spadix.


It has a male part at the apex and a female part at the base.

I peeled away the outer sheath/spathe to expose the floral parts.


Then I sliced into the darkly spotted female part covered in florets/fruits.


Under the microscope I smashed these little florets/fruits to release some seeds.


I sliced off part of the yellow outer layer of the male floret part.


The yellow powder/ pollen has an interesting shape.

I must say the spathe and spadix makes an ugly flower, but its components are beautiful under a microscope.