How to Store Bulbs for Spring


The fall begins the bulb planting season for many gardeners. Hardy bulbs like daffodils and tulips can be planted at this time, but tender bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolus must be dug up in cold climates, when the first frost hits the ground. In warmer climates, wait until the leaves start to turn brown. Tuberous begonias and tuberoses can't tolerate a light frost so dig them up earlier. After the bulbs are dug up, special care must be taken to store them for planting next spring.

Step 1

Take care when lifting tender bulbs from the ground. Gently loosen the soil around the bulbs and carefully lift the entire root ball. Cut back the stems to several inches above the bulb. Gently remove the soil around the bulb and roots with your fingers. Let them dry in the sun for a few days.

Step 2

Store begonia tubers concave side up in a layer of peat moss or sand. Line a shallow box with peat moss or dry leaves and arrange bulbs in one layer. Label the box as to cultivar (variety) and color.

Step 3

Store and care for gladiolus bulbs. Mix a solution of 10 percent chlorine bleach and water. Dip the corms, dry and store in a single layer in a cardboard box. There's no need to layer with peat moss.

Step 4

Store hardy bulbs like daffodils and tulips in a cardboard box, without any special care. Hardy bulbs are those that can survive at temperatures below freezing. They may also be left in the ground, if preferred. You may want to divide the bulbs every few years. Bulbs reproduce; when dug up there will be new "baby" bulbs attached to them. These can be replanted.

Step 5

Store all bulbs in a cool, dark, dry place at a temperature of 40 to 50 degrees F.

Tips and Warnings

  • Tender bulbs are damaged or killed by cold temperatures or frost. Know which bulbs are tender in your garden, and get them out of the ground early.

Things You'll Need

  • Shallow boxes with lids
  • Peat moss or sand
  • Bleach


  • Perennials & Bulbs; Timothy O. Bakke; 2009

Who Can Help

  • Garden Bulbs for the South; Scott Ogden; 2007
  • Bulbs in Containers; Rod Leeds; 2005
Keywords: storing bulbs, bulb care, spring bulbs

About this Author

Brenda Reeves started writing in 1979. Specializing in gardening topics, her articles appear on numerous Web sites, including eHow. Reeves has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from California State University, Northridge.