Preparing Bulbs For Winter: How To Store Bulbs For Winter

Person Holding A Wooden Box Full Of Bulbs
tulip bulbs in the box
(Image credit: Jurgute)

Whether you are storing tender summer-blooming bulbs or more hardy spring bulbs that you did not get in the ground in time, knowing how to store bulbs for winter will ensure that these bulbs will be viable for planting in the spring. Let's look at how to store garden bulbs over the winter.

Preparing Bulbs for Winter Storage

Cleaning - If your bulbs were dug up from the ground, gently brush off any excess dirt. Do not wash the bulbs as this can add excess water to the bulb and cause it to rot while you are storing bulbs for the winter.

Packing - Remove the bulbs from any plastic bags or containers. One of the things to keep in mind when you are learning how to store bulbs for winter is that if you store your bulbs in a material that cannot "breathe," the bulbs will rot.

Instead, pack your bulbs in a cardboard box for storing bulbs for the winter. When preparing bulbs for winter, layer the bulbs in the box with newspaper in between each layer. In each layer of bulbs, the bulbs should not be touching one another.

Storing Bulbs for the Winter

Location - The proper way to store bulbs for winter is to choose a cool but dry location for your bulbs. A closet is good. If your basement does not get too damp, this is also a good choice. If you are storing spring blooming bulbs, the garage is also good.

Special directions for spring blooming bulbs - If you are not storing spring blooming bulbs in the garage, consider storing bulbs for the winter in your refrigerator. Spring-blooming bulbs need at least six to eight weeks of cold in order to bloom. By preparing bulbs for winter and then storing them in your fridge, you can still enjoy a bloom from them. Plant them as soon as the ground thaws in the spring. Just don't put fruits such as apples or pears in your fridge at the same time. They emit ethylene gas, which can kill the bulbs.

Check on them occasionally - Another tip for how to store garden bulbs over the winter is to check them about once a month. Squeeze each one gently and toss any that have become mushy.

Now that you know how to store garden bulbs over the winter, you can keep your bulbs safe from Old Man Winter and enjoy their beauty next year.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.