How to Store Flower Bulbs

By Rebekah Richards , last updated March 22, 2011

If you purchase bulbs before planting them or dig up bulbs after the flowers lose their foliage and go dormant, you'll need to store the bulbs until they are ready to be planted. Several popular spring and summer flowers grow from bulbs, such as tulips, day lilies, daffodils and crocuses. Digging up bulbs allows you to divide them, preventing overcrowding, and also protects tender bulbs against damage from the cold. Storing bulbs improperly damages or kills the flowers, so careful storage is essential.

Storing Bulbs

Most bulbs should be washed before storage if they have been dug from the ground. Let the bulbs dry completely in a shaded area before storing them, and discard any bulbs that have spots, other signs of disease or are undersized. Do not wash newly purchased bulbs. Store bulbs in a cool, dry place, such as a dry basement or garage, that is kept between 50 to 60 degrees. Temperatures that are too warm or too cool will damage the bulbs, as will direct sunlight.

Make sure the bulbs are well-ventilated; if possible, store them on trays with screen bottoms or hang bulbs in a knit sack or paper bag to ensure air reaches all sides. Do not store flower bulbs near fruit because some types of fruit produce ethylene, a gas that can cause rotting. For example, storing flower bulbs near a bag of apples in the garage will damage the bulbs.

Do not stack more than two or three layers of bulbs on top of one another; stacking bulbs too closely can lead to rotting and damage. Excessive humidity will also cause rotting and decay. However, some bulbs require certain levels of moisture. For example, dahlia, achimenes, ismene, caladium, begonia and canna bulbs should be stored on peat moss, moistened sawdust or vermiculite. Do not wash the soil off these bulbs before storing them, but wash them before planting.

This tips will help you keep your bulbs healthy and your garden beautiful.

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