The Great Outdoors


 Doug Hackbarth - Broadview Florist & GreenhousesIf your peony plants did a poor job of blooming this year, it may be time to dig them up and divide them. Start by cutting off the foliage near ground level then dig them carefully out of the ground. Shake them to remove the loose soil and wash them so that the roots are better exposed for separation. Using a knife to divide the roots, make sure there are three to five eyes (buds) attached to three or four thick roots. Re-plant the roots in the ground but be careful not to plant them deeper than 2 inches below the surface as peonies planted too deep will only give you excellent foliage next year, but no flowers. After the ground freezes, it is a good idea to mulch with either leaves or straw at a thickness of 2 to 3 inches.

Dahlias have really increased in popularity these days as they are much more plentiful due to newer varieties offered at lower prices. Many are now started from seed that develop into a bulb by fall and all of these bulbs need to be stored in a cool place that never freezes during the winter months. Dig up the bulbs just after the first frost or by the end of October. Allow them to dry and then remove all remaining soil and small roots. Discard any damaged or rotten bulbs then store the rest in a cardboard box or a wooden crate that has 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, sawdust or vermiculite in the bottom. Cover the bulbs with the same material then store them in an area that runs around 40 to 55 degrees. Lightly mist the bulbs if they seem too dry.

Begonias are classified in a couple of ways and are described by their root systems, fibrous or tuberous. Fibrous rooted begonias are also known as “wax” begonias including “Rex” begonias and “Angel-wing” begonias. To keep these begonias going until next year, simply cut them back, short, and bring them inside for the winter. Give them plenty of light and run them on the dry side during the winter months…no fertilizer.

The tuberous varieties are either started from a tuber, or now, from seeds which eventually develop into a tuber. The tubers are somewhat expensive and hard for a homeowner to grow inside. They also grow very tall and break easily when the wind blows or during a heavy downpour. Tuberous begonias from a tuber do however, have the largest flowers. The benefits of the “Non-stop” begonia, as the ones from seed are known, is that their flowers are larger than the “wax” begonias and the plants remain a reasonable height. Allow the first frost to hit the tuberous begonias but take your fibrous begonias inside before the first frost.

At the time of first frost, Gladiolus bulbs (corms) should be dug up and allowed to dry for a few weeks in an area that does not freeze. Cut the stems just above the corm. After drying out, divide the corms with your hands and discard any that are all shriveled up. Remove the loose husks but leave the wrapper husk intact. Place the corms in a paper bag and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Seven or Eight dry powdered insecticide, then shake. Next, place the corms in either a flat cardboard box or a wooden crate and place in an area that runs around 40 to 45 degrees with plenty of air circulation.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer