How to Store Bulbs for Winter

I love flowers that grow from bulbs. They are usually so dramatic and I just love how they pop up and really make a statement in the garden. The trouble with bulbs is that a lot of them, especially those that bloom in the spring, require cold temperatures for a few weeks in order to flower and then at the first warm rays of spring time sun they come out. If you live in an area like I do here in the southern U.S. where the winters aren’t that cold and we sometimes have warm days starting in February the climate is not ideal for preparing spring blooming bulbs to flower. And with my luck they flower before I’ve gotten out and cleaned up my container garden, so I have these beautiful blooms in the midst of the weeds that somehow managed to survive the winter chill. There are also bulbs that bloom later in the summer. These bulbs are more delicate and can’t handle being out in the cold during the winter months. For these reasons you might want to consider digging up your bulbs after they flower, storing them through the winter and planting them again when temperatures start to rise. By doing this you have more control over the cold temperature during the winter and more control over when you plant them and therefore when they warm up and decide to bloom.

Storing bulbs is really easy. All you need is a cool, dry place to store them and a way to prevent the bulbs from touching as moisture can cause them to rot. There are several ways to go about this, but this is my favorite.

All you need is:

Small cardboard box

Heavy weight craft paper

Garden scissors

1. Dig up the bulbs and gently knock off any extra dirt. Don’t rinse them off because you don’t want to introduce any additional moisture. Trim off any remaining stems and roots.

2. Cut a strip of craft paper that is the width of the inside of your cardboard box and 2-3 time longer. You don’t have to be exact, but on the width you want it to have a snug fit, so cut it a little wider to start. Fold the strip widthwise back and forth like an accordion. Size your folds to be slightly larger than your bulbs. Check the width and trim off any additional amount you need for it to fit snugly, but not buckle up. Place the folded paper in the box and stretch it out to create little pockets for the bulbs.

4. Place bulbs in the folds, so that they are not touching. Repeat with as many layers as it takes to hold all your bulbs.

5. Bulbs that bloom in the summer can be stored anywhere it is cool and dry, but if they are spring blooming you will need to make sure they get several weeks of cold temperatures in order for them to bloom. Your garage or even the refrigerator works well for this.

6. All you have to do is check them once a month to make sure that they are still firm until you are ready to plant. If any have started to rot just discarded them.

Happy Planting!