Bulbs For The House
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
" Upon the care we give our plants and bulbs during the fall depends in a great measure the joy we will get from them in the year to come," writes H. Hunt. " Neglected then, they will be so weakened by the long, cold winter that a whole season will be required in which to recuperate, or we must mourn the loss of them entirely.
Bulbs and plants that are to go into the house or cellar should not be left out too long, as there is danger that the frost will penetrate to the roots enough to destroy their vitality. Plants to be potted should be lifted early and left out of doors in the pots until thoroughly established therein. The foliage should be sprinkled daily, and gradually accustomed to the temperature of the room in which they are to remain. A judicious thinning of foliage is desirable, as no plant can carry as dense a growth of leafage indoors as it will carry outdoors. Dahlias, cannas, and the like should be marked before the foliage freezes. A strip f zinc, with the name written in pencil, is a good way. After the foliage is killed by the frost, the tubers will ripen if they are left in the ground for a time, but they should not be left in after there is danger of the soil about the stalks freezing. Such bulbs should be lifted on a warm, sunny day, and left to dry out thoroughly before being stored away. If the storehouse is very dry it is well to pack them in dry sand, but I have had the best success by storing them in the vegetable cellar. Placed in a bin, like potatoes, they will keep perfectly where potatoes will keep, and begin to sprout in the spring at about the same time that potatoes begin to sprout.
"Bulbs that live over winter need care also: If they have been growing for years, undisturbed, they often become matted together in large clumps and, therefore, throw up but few flower stalks. When this is the case they should be lifted in the fall, divided, and reset if possible in a new place. Those newly set, or long set, should be covered with a thick mulch of well-rotted manure to protect from the cold and to furnish fertilizer for the coming spring. Over this may be placed a protection of straw or evergreen boughs, or leaves, if needed. Where snow falls early and remains all winter, it affords a good covering for such bulbs. It is the alternate freezing and thawing that kills, not the steady cold."