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Overwintering colocasia

Overwintering colocasia

Someone just asked me how to overwinter taros, and not wanting to be the blind leading the blind...what's the best way?

She wants to move it from her little outdoor pond into a cool sunny room for the winter...will this be a problem compared to making it go dormant till spring?

I've grown my (3) plants in containers this year, so hope they can just go into frostfree storage like a dahlia (?)

The following thread was started by Glen in Surrey on August 28, 2005 at 10:00 am PST

I have had success with two methods

I left some in the ground in a raised bed with good drainage and they survived the winter very well. This year they have developed into a huge clump.

I also moved some (in pots) into my garage and kept them dry over the winter. I moved the pots into the greenhouse in the spring to give them a kick-start on the season and they also faired very well this year.

The above followup was added by Brian, Tofino, BC on August 28, 2005 at 7:28 pm PST.

success and failure

Hi Glen, how are you doing?
Say, overwintering Colocasias (and relatives) has been on my mind too, lately. How are yours doing?

As you probably already know, I have not had success overwintering any Colocasia other than esculenta as a "dry" dormant "bulb". The cultivars like Black Magic, Illustris etc. don't seem to take to being kept this way and are prone to rot, except perhaps the offsets they make each year which seem to do fine. But, then again, that defeats the purpose of overwintering them as, for me, it's the process of getting them huge that is the objective.

Your friend's cool sunny room should be okay, we treated some like this last winter with moderate success. They will need to be kept on the dry side, with fair humidity and tell you friend to be absolute day and night vigilant about spider mite. Spider mites and overwintering Colocasias go together like rain and January in Vancouver.

The ones you got from me I'd be cautious about trying them like a dahlia. You got the survivors of all the ones I lost trying that.

I agree with Brian that most types can survive a winter here with excellent drainage, and a good mulch. I'm not sure what types he has tried in his garage, but we are going to try some like that this year too and see what happens. We should be able to force the Xanthosomas and C. esculenta dormant as a dry bulb, the Alocasias will need to be "houseplants" and the Colocasia cultivars we will see just how long they last in the cool greenhouse or basement.

You baby Embothriums had a tough summer of drought but seem to be liking the sudden cool and rain. Me too.

The above followup was added by ken b (E Vancouver) on August 29, 2005 at 7:10 am PST.

Spider mites etc.

Ken--it's been an interesting summer, a learning deal. The Black Magic and Chicago Harlequin have both become nice big plants and star attractions on the patio.

Your mention of troubles overwintering Colocasias is news to me, I thought they were dead easy , like making taro roots you buy in the market. Hmmm, so treating like dahlias, no good, got it. Except that most of our dahlias do overwinter fine in the ground, and as Brian mentioned that may work for taros too. Just I won't risk these precious plants at this juncture, in a few years when we have a fair number to play with...Frost free greenhouse it will be, spider mites and all...

I have thankfully very little experience with spider mites, but the colocasia has introduced me to them already this summer. After that good rain a few weeks ago, the edges of the Black Magic turned suddenly crispy like fertilizer burn (which it may have been, it's in a #15 container, not the ground). Looking closely, the leaves were crawling with mites, yikes! I have since been spraying the leaves daily with water, and the mites are still there a bit but very minor. I can sure see where these will be fun, fun, fun indoors this winter!

Re: learning experience. My 100+ embothrium seedlings are down to around 10 or 20, all gradually succumbing to root problems of some sort. Love a challenge, but sheesh!

The above followup was added by Glen in Surrey on August 29, 2005 at 7:51 am PST.

Colocasia "bulbs"

Hey Glen, I'm glad your plants are nice and big. My esculenta are a stunning 5 or 6 feet tall this year so that bodes well for next year.

As for overwintering, it's esculenta that is real easy to do. It's the one you find in all the stores in the Spring as a dry Taro "bulb". You don't find the others (Black Magic etc.). So esculenta is dead easy and all the others are dead difficult (in my opinion). As yours are in pots, you can't try them in the ground...but I have had no luck with that either--all of them rotted.

Esculenta also seems to be the type that spider mites aren't interested in. But the other types are all spider mite magnets, you have to spray and spray. Our sprinkler systems are the misting type and this is very useful where those little nasties are concerned. Indoors they can easily devastate all your Elephant Ears over winter.

Hmmm, all the Embothriums we got from you are fine, but they are all in a nice raised bed--are yours mainly still in containers?

The above followup was added by ken b (E Vancouver) on August 29, 2005 at 9:13 am PST.

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