With winter looming on the horizon, now is a good time to think about preparing any leftover bulbs you have for storage during the colder months. Whether you are keeping hardy spring bulbs or delicate summer bloomers, storing them correctly will ensure that your gardening plans will be on track once the sun comes out again next year.
Some argue that leaving bulbs in the ground is perfectly acceptable, especially if the bulbs have had a good feed after flowering as this encourages growth the next year. However, if you want to protect your bulbs from mice or you simply wish to change the colour scheme the following year, lifting and storing bulbs is the best way to save money and keep your best flowers.
As with anything in the garden, timing is key when it comes to storing bulbs. The best window for lifting bulbs is usually around 5-6 weeks after flowering. This is when the leaves have wilted back, and the bulbs are easier to remove.
Clean the bulbs by gently brushing away mud and dirt but refrain from using water to wash them as this will add unwanted moisture that could lead to rot in storage.
Another way to avoid rotting is by using packing material that allows the bulbs to breathe. Plastic and foam are not great for this purpose, instead choose newspaper or cotton cloth to keep them snug during the winter. Set out a layer of bulbs, ensuring that they do not touch each other, followed by a layer of newspaper and continue.
Always pack your bulbs into a cardboard box as this will encourage air flow and prevent bulbs from rotting.
Find a cool, dark, safe space to store the box until spring, this could be under the stairs, in a garage or in a cupboard. Spring blooming bulbs flower much better if they have been exposed to cooler temperatures for 8 weeks before they are planted, so keeping these bulbs in a cooler area is a good way to ensure that they flower beautifully.
It’s always worth checking on your bulbs every now and again to root out any that have become soft or rotten, that way you will prevent the rot spreading to the others.
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