The Q&A Archives: Storing Tulip Bulbs

Question: How should bulbs be stored when finished blooming in spring and before planting in fall?

Answer: Tulip bulbs are best lifted early in June. The stem and bulb must remain intact for proper curing. Use a spade to lift them as the fork usually doesn't give enough support. Carefully shake off the dirt and place your stemmed bulbs neatly in a pile . If it's sunny, cover them with a sack or something. Put them in a trench long and deep enough to accommodate all the bulbs, covering them with about 6 inches of soil with the green stems exposed to the hot sun. As the stalks are dried out in a week or two, remove the bulbs from the trench. Seperate the bulblets (but KEEP them) and spread the bulbs, and bulblets, out on a flat surface in heavy shade to dry while you do the rest of the bulbs. Place them on trays and leave them in an area that has good circulation, is warm and dry. The attic or garage are both excellent. It hotter it is, the drier the air will be. They MUST be kept dry to prevent rotting. Be sure they are kept safe from mice! In the fall, they will be ready for planting.

Caring for tulips is quite easy. In general, they simply need a spot (as mentioned above) with rich soil, and good drainage. They do appreciate an application of fertilizer such as "Bulb Booster" in the spring, and again in the fall. Any type of superphosphate could be used in place of this.

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