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How Long Can Flower Bulbs Be Stored?

How Long Can Flower Bulbs Be Stored?
Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

Wondering how long flower bulbs last? It’s a common question, especially as the end of summer nears. If you have some unplanted bulbs leftover or simply don’t know what to do with your old ones, you might wonder how long they last once they’re no longer in the ground. Luckily, most types of flower bulbs can be stored for months after you pull them out of the ground. Keeping your bulbs from shriveling up and going bad is relatively easy if you follow a few simple rules. To extend their shelf life as long as possible, keep reading for tips on how long bulbs last unplanted and how to store bulbs before planting properly.

Which flower bulbs can be stored?

Most flower bulbs from florium.com can be stored and planted at a later time. Bulb varieties that can be stored include: 

  • daffodils, 
  • tulips, 
  • hyacinths, 
  • amaryllis, 
  • paperwhites, 
  • and grape hyacinth. 

You can also store corms, such as dahlias, but they require a slightly different storage method. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. Flower bulbs that need to be planted immediately after purchase, such as gladiolus, cannot be stored. Similarly, bulbs that require warm soil, such as tulips and daffodils, can’t be stored for long periods. Typically, once the ground freezes, these bulbs can’t be planted until the following spring.

How long do flower bulbs last?

The lifespan of a flower bulb varies depending on the type. On average, though, the majority of flower bulbs can last anywhere from two to four months once they’re out of the ground. Once they’re in storage, they risk rot and insect damage. Some bulbs, such as hyacinths, amaryllis, and grape hyacinth, can last up to six months in storage. 

How to store flower bulbs properly

To extend the lifespan of your stored bulbs, follow these tips: 

  • Choose a dry and cool spot to store your bulbs. The ideal temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees, but avoid putting them where they’ll freeze. 
  • Place your bulbs in mesh or paper bags with some breathing room. While they can be stored in the original packaging, keeping them away from moisture is crucial. 
  • If storing your bulbs indoors, you may need to cover them in case of a late frost.
  • Avoid touching the bulbs with your hands, as the oils from your skin can cause the bulbs to rot.

When to plant your stored flower bulbs

If you’re planning to store your bulbs throughout the winter, there are a few things to keep in mind. Flower bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall. Bulbs that require warmth to sprout, such as tulips, won’t grow until the ground warms up in the spring. Once the ground is above freezing, you can plant your stored bulbs. If you want to extend the growing season of your bulbs, you can plant them in pots and bring them inside when the weather turns cold. If you’re storing corms like dahlias, follow the same guidelines above. Keep in mind that many corms require a period of chilling to induce flowering. For example, if you’re storing dahlias, you need to keep them in a cool, dim place until mid-to-late November. After that, you can store them in a dark, cool spot until the following fall.

How long can you keep bulbs before planting: Tips to extend the life of your flower bulbs

To further protect your bulbs from rot and insects, you can spray them with an insecticidal soap before storing them. Avoid storing your bulbs in damp conditions, and don’t leave them where they can freeze. It’s essential to check your bulbs every few months and remove any that have shriveled or turned brown. If you notice any damage, such as insects chewing on the bulbs, you may need to repair or replace the bulbs. If you’re storing your bulbs in a garage or basement, ensure the environment is dry. Humidity can cause your bulbs to rot, which shortens their lifespan. Silica gel can help remove moisture and extend the shelf life of your bulbs.

flower bulbs in pots
Photo by Jan van der Wolf: https://www.pexels.com

How to tell if flower bulbs are still good

If you notice any areas of rot on your bulbs, remove them immediately. If the rot has spread to other bulbs in the same bag, discard them. When you find rot on your bulbs, you have a few options: 

  1. You can remove the bulbs and discard them if the damage is severe. 
  2. If the bulbs are repairable, you can cut out the damaged area and seal the cut with a disinfectant, such as rubbing alcohol. You can also coat the cut with a fungicide, such as Agarol. 

When insects, such as termites or beetles, feed on your bulbs, you must immediately cut out the damaged bulbs and discard them. You can also use insecticides, such as diatomaceous earth, to kill the pests. 

Final words

Bulb storage is a great way to extend the growing season. It’s essential to keep your bulbs warm, dry, and out of the way, so they don’t get damaged. Keeping your bulbs clean and free of pests will help them last longer. Once the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to dig up your bulbs. You can plant them in pots or a garden bed and enjoy fresh flowers all spring and summer long.

Featured Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay