Storing Flower Bulbs

Storing flower bulbs is easy but also is one of those things that gardeners do each fall with a great deal of regret. When summer-flowering bulbs go into our cellars, we truly know the season is over.

But the thing we can all look forward to is next spring when these bulbs go back into the ground.

Individual Bulb Recommendations

Storing flower bulbs means understanding that each bulb differs somewhat in its needs.

Here's a page with bulb-specific needs

General and Easy Techniques

The absolutely easiest way to store any bulb is to leave it in the ground.

Unfortunately, if your area is colder than the bulb’s requirements, it means your bulb dies. So, my zone 4 garden is not going to overwinter calla lilies any time soon. :-( Having said that, if you can store a bulb outdoors, and mimic its natural environment, it will bloom much better for you than digging it up and storing it indoors. This by the way is the same for hardy bulbs like tulips. It is only really old-tyme gardeners who insist on digging up tulips each year and storing them.

Note that the storage system for each bulb will be discussed on the page with that bulb’s growing conditions. In other words if you want to know how to store a specific kind of bulb, it will be listed on that specific bulb’s page along with planting and cultural conditions.

Don’t store them damp

Dampness will lead to rotting faster than you can even contemplate it. You must dry bulbs before you begin to store them or you’ll come down to the most vile rotting mess you can imagine. There are a few exceptions to this rule (e.g. Crinums) but not many (and they are covered in the specific page).

Don’t store them in your refrigerator.

Not because some ravenous teenager might eat them (that might happen too) but because the ethylene given off by fruits such as apples can lead to bud distortion in some bulbs and in some varieties of bulbs.

What to Store Them In

Dry peat moss, dry sand and dry vermiculite make excellent storage mediums.

General Warnings

Try to store bulbs where there is ventilation that will remove excessive humidity.

Control rodents. Laugh if you will but mice enjoy eating bulbs as much as chipmunks or squirrels.

Storing Damaged Bulbs

If the flower bulb is damaged, let it dry thoroughly before you store it.

Dusting the wound with sulphur will help prevent any rot from becoming established. Some gardeners cut out rotting sections, dust with sulphur and try to keep damaged or rotting bulbs of special varieties. They will store those damaged bulbs separately from healthy bulbs (remember the rotten apple in the barrel adage.)

And those are the general guidelines for storing flower bulbs.

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Flower Gardening with Spring Bulbs Ebook

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