I would like to overwinter elephant ear (Alocasia) bulbs, pineapple lilies, and geraniums in my house, by bulb or root only. I don't have room to keep the big plants in their pots. Can you advise me?

Gardens & Landscapes March 07, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF
University of Illinois suggests that you cut the elephant ear plants back to within 4 to 6 inches of the ground a few days after the first frost. Carefully dig the plants with a spade or potato fork. Allow the bulbs to dry until they are dry to the touch. Store them in peat moss or vermiculite in an area of the house that will stay between 40 and 50 degrees; typically the basement or a crawl space. The pineapple lily bulbs can also be stored in the same fashion. For more information see: Overwintering Tropical Plants Geraniums can be overwintered by propagating tip cuttings of the plants and growing them on a windowsill or under fluorescent lighting. You can also dig the geraniums and carefully shake all the soil from their roots. Then hang the plants upside down in a cool (45 to 50 degree F), dry place. An alternate method is to place one or two plants in a large paper sack. Once a month during the winter, soak the roots of each plant in water for one to two hours. Most of the leaves will eventually fall off. (The paper sack method is much cleaner than the hanging method.) In March, prune or cut back each plant. Remove all shriveled, dead material. Healthy, live stems will be firm and solid. After pruning, pot up the plants and water thoroughly. Place the potted geraniums in a sunny window or under artificial lighting.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.