You may want to preserve flower bulbs because they cannot withstand outdoor frost and cold, or you want to move them to a new location. Hardy bulb varieties such as daffodils are cold resistant and do not require indoor storage during the winter months; while tender bulbs, such as spider lilies and gladiolus, need to be preserved indoors in the cold winter so you can replant them outside in spring. Tender bulbs include fleshy roots, tubers or bulbs that you store.
Wait for the appropriate time to dig the bulbs. This can be when the foliage dries up naturally, or when the first frost occurs. Carefully dig at least 6 inches around the stem, loosening the soil around the roots as you work your way down. Cutting the fleshy roots will make the bulb susceptible to disease.
Use a garden hose at mild setting to wash off excess soil or debris off the bulbs, except gladiolus, which should be cleaned by hand. Dispose of damaged or diseased bulbs.
Spread newspapers in a dry, well ventilated room or an area away from direct sunlight and strong winds, and place the bulbs over them. Most bulbs will take up to 3 days to dry, at 60 to 70 degrees F.
Take a paper or mesh bag or a box lined with moist peat moss and carefully place the bulbs over them. Label bag or box with a marker so you know the type of bulb it contains.
Store the box or bag containing the bulbs in a cool, dark and dry place with a consistent temperature of 50 to 60 degrees F, such as a cupboard, basement or garage, until you replant them in spring.
Check the bulbs frequently; at least once every two to three weeks during the storage period, to remove any damaged ones. Keep in mind that bulbs are living and will need care even though they are dormant. Mist the bulbs that are shriveling, and cut back any rotting roots of plants such as dahlias until the clear white tissue is visible.