Give your stored bulbs, like this dahlia, a monthly once-over.

Here’s something to add to your electronic agenda. During the winter season, have it ping once a month to warn you that it’s time to check the status of the summer bulbs (cannas, tuberous begonias, gladiolus, callas, etc.) that you stored cool and dry in your basement.

Be especially sure to remove any bulb that is starting to rot (yes, rot happens!), because the microbes causing rot can easily spread to previously healthy bulbs nearby.

If you see any insects, sprinkle the bulbs with diatomaceous earth, a biological insecticide that is advantageous under these circumstances in that it can be applied dry.

Also, if the bulbs show signs of shriveling (more likely to be the case closer to spring than early in the winter), indicating things are getting a bit too dry for their taste, spray them lightly with water to get them to plump up again.

A quick monthly lookover only takes a few minutes and can make a huge difference in the quality of your bulbs when spring comes around!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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