Ask the Expert

Wisconsin State Farmer
The cute little dark-eyed juncos, or as some folks refer to them, snow birds, are members of the sparrow family, and are often seen harvesting seed below feeders.

Q: How do I store my cannas for winter?

A: Once they are hit by a heavy frost or freeze, canna rhizomes should be dug and dried completely before storing it for winter. To do this, lift them with a garden fork and it cut off the stem and foliage. Leave outdoors in a dry, sunny location for a few weeks. Placing them on a screen works best to avoid condensing moisture. Once they are completely dried, they can be stored indoors in a cool, dry location. 

Q: When I dug my gladiolus this week, I noticed hundreds of little balls growing on each corm. What is wrong with my plant?

A: Your plants are actually quite healthy. Each one of those little bulblets can be replanted and will grow into a flowering sized corm in a season or two.

Q: I'm seeing juncos again. What type of food do they prefer? 

A: Juncos are not picky eaters and will glean feeders and waste on the ground below for just about anything. Weed seeds, cracked corn, standard bird seed and suet all work wonderfully for juncos. 

Q: I planted some hostas in containers. What should I do with them in winter?

A: If you have a spot in the garden or yard to simply dig the hostas in for the winter to allow them to naturally go dormant in the soil, this works best. They can then be lifted and replanted in the containers next spring. Many gardeners have success simply placing the container in an unheated shed or garage for the winter, then beginning to water again in late February or March. An  unheated location is key. If placed in an area that is too warm, the plants will not survive. Hostas, like all perennials in our area, need a period of cold.