Perennial flower bulbs are classic components of home gardens. Learning how to store bulbs after flowering for the next season will enable you to purchase the flower bulbs once and enjoy them for many years.
Flower bulbs produce easy-care plants that will need minimal care during their growing season. The bulbs store all the nutrients needed by the plants. When you plant the bulbs at the right time and stored properly, they will fill your landscape with a colorful display that other plants cannot match.
When To Dig Up
Flowering bulbs should be left in-ground until the foliage has turned brown and dried up but before the ground freezes in the winter.
The bulbs need the plant leaves to photosynthesize and make food for them after they finish flowering. Each year, bulbs must store enough food to set new buds and enough energy so they can re-produce the next season.
How To Dig Up Bulbs
Use a shovel to gently pry the bulb from the soil. Place the shovel several inches (1 inch = 2.5 cm) away from, and under, the bulb so it won’t be injured during removal.
Gently pry the soil upward and pull the bulb from the soil. Shake off the loose soil, cut any remaining foliage down to 6-inches (15cm), and trim long roots back to 2-inches (5cm).
Allow Bulbs To Dry Out
You need to dry out flower bulbs before storing them for the next season to prevent rot. Select a cool, dry location where there’s no direct sunlight for bulb-drying.
Place the flower bulbs in a single layer on a mesh wire so air can circulate all around them. Laying the bulbs on a table covered with newspaper will work also if you remember to turn the bulbs one-half turn every day.
After cut edges have sealed and the roots are dry to the touch, you can store the bulbs safely until next season. The larger the bulb, the longer it will take to dry out. Crocus bulbs will dry out in about 5 days, elephant ear bulbs may take 2-weeks to dry out enough to be stored for the winter.
To safely store bulbs after flowering for next season they will need to be layered in newspaper. The paper will absorb any remaining moisture and help prevent the bulbs from freezing during the winter.
Place several sheets of newspaper in the bottom of a cardboard box. Then add a single layer of flowering bulbs on top. Add another layer of newspaper followed by a layer of bulbs. Label the boxes and store in a cool, dry place for the winter.