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storing tubers

If tubers are not to be replanted as soon as they have been lifted and divided they must be stored for protection before planting. Dusting the cut ends and any wounds with a fungicide will help protect the tuber during storage.

The most popular method is to store the tubers in a damp (not wet) medium like potting soil mixed with sawdust or damp coir in a container – a cut-down polystyrene box lined with newspaper to retain the medium and moisture is ideal. Fill the box with about 50mm of the medium, place the tubers in the box with the stalk end lined up along the edge so it is easy check for sprouting. Cover with a thin layer of the damp medium. If there is more than one variety in the box, use dividers to separate them into sections, each with its own label. Some growers use indelible pencil or a permanent marker to write the name on the tuber.

If space is an issue, the tubers and the storage medium can be kept in plastic bags hanging on a wall. Bags should contain only one type – label the bag and put another label inside.

Another alternative if you do not have large numbers of tubers to store is to wrap the tubers singly or in small clusters in cling wrap without any storage medium. The wrap stops the tubers drying out and reduces the risk of damp medium inducing rot.

Perhaps the simplest way to store the tubers is to leave them in the clump on the ground under the shade of an evergreen tree or the side of a shed. All that should be needed before dividing in early spring is to watch out for damage by rabbits or rodents.

Tubers in a storage medium need to be kept damp to avoid rot from wet or shrivelling from drying out. Check them occasionally. Remove tubers showing signs of rot and spray the medium with a little water on signs of drying out. If you are using bags, rot is more likely – use a pale coloured medium which will turn black if you get it. This will give you a chance to remove the rotting tubers and apply fungicide to the rest to save them.

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