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DATURAS-how to store dormant in fridge over winter

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Those of us who love Daturas, but live in colder climates wish these beautiful plants are hardy to re-grow and bloom the following season. Frost always seems to hit when they are the most beautiful. Such happened this year with mine.

This season, I had an unusual pretty yellow Datura. It is a bee pollinated hybrid from Datura inoxia (white) and D. metel (double yellow). I had both growing 4 years ago and collected the seeds. I sowed the seeds this spring. When fall came, I decided to carry it over in the fridge, like I did with inoxia and Purple Ballarina some years ago. Those bloomed quicker and grew larger than when seed sown. However, this time I took photos to illustrate.

They can also be potted in a 16+" pot if you have the room and a cool place to store them.

As the plant stops blooming in the fall when days get shorter, you can dig it up. (This year I waited to dig after first frost.) Remove all soil. Cut the stem back to 6". The roots are thick like a carrot, and finger-like at this point. They can be trimmed without harm. Leave small roots on the plant. Barely moisten some peatmoss (not wet) and put it around the roots. Put the roots in a plastic bag up to where the stem joins the root. Tie it loosely or use a rubber band. Or put the root in the bag first, then spread peat moss around the roots. Whichever is easier.

Place the bag with the roots in your fridge over winter, or someplace where the temp is similar. The plant will go dormant. It is a perennial in warmer zones. I believe they are hardier than people think.

I noticed in April, shoots growing at the base of the plant while still in the fridge. Also had formed new roots inside the bag. Life appeared to be stirring. How the plant knew it was spring while in the fridge, only It knows.

When you see this, remove from fridge, punch drainage holes in the bag and stick unplanted in a pot for support and water with plant food. Place the pot in a protected place with morning sun to harden off. Plant in the garden when it is past frost date in your area.

Treated as such, the plant grew huskier and bloomed earlier, than seed sown.

Below is my hybrid. Photo taken September, just 3 days before first frost in my zone 4.

Thumbnail by blomma
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