New England

October, 2000
Regional Report

Dig and Store Dahlias

As frost blackens the tops of your dahlia plants, it\'s time to dig and store the tubers. Dig up only the largest tubers, wash off the soil, and let them air dry. Cut the stem to just above the tuber. Store them in a cool basement in newspaper-lined boxes in a single layer and cover them with slightly moistened vermiculite. Mist them if they start to shrivel during the winter.

Plant Bulbs


Spring-flowering tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses all can be planted now. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Plant bulbs in groups and add a handful of bulb fertilizer such as Bulb Booster to each hole. Plant the bulbs to a depth of two times the diameter of the bulb.

Bring in Houseplants

Tropical houseplants such as hibiscus that spent the summer on a back deck or porch need to be moved indoors now. First check plants carefully for signs of insects and spray them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, if necessary, before moving them indoors. Inside, place them in a sunny window, cut back on fertilizing and watering, and continue checking for insects.

Dig and Store Gladiolus

Dig up gladiolus corms now to store through winter. Cut off the tops and let the dug corms dry in a shady, indoor location until the soil is dry. Remove the older bottom corm and save the new upper corm in a milk crate or cardboard box filled with dry peat moss. Store them in a 40-degree F room with high humidity, such as a basement.

Protect Pumpkins

Pumpkins that are turning orange shouldn\'t be left out in the field during frosty nights. The frost will weaken the skins and make the pumpkins more likely to rot before Halloween. Put a blanket over them if frost threatens, or harvest them even while they show some green and move them into a protected barn or garage to continue maturing.

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