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PLANTING & CARE OF BULBS: DIGGING AND STORING

Care of Bulbs: Digging
Most Bulbs prefer not to be disturbed and can be left in the ground for many years. But beware of overcrowding. When too many bulbs try to occupy the same space, they will be less vigorous and flowers will be fewer and smaller, an indication that it's time to transplant them.

Lifting and Storing Bulbs

If you lift your Bulbs, they should be stored in a well ventilated place and replanted in the fall. Every five years Daffodils and Crocus should be dug and replanted to prevent overcrowding. The first sign of overcrowding will be a decrease in the flower size, uneven bloom and uneven plant height. When this occurs, this is when you should dig up the bulbs, spread the bulbs out and replant them immediately.

Digging Summer - Less hardy bulbs such as Dahlias or Begonias should be lifted each fall. It is best to lift after frost has blackened foliage, gently spade up the bulbs, being careful not to cut into the bulbs/tubers and damage them. If you prefer to lift the bulbs before frost has hit, you can dig your bulbs early and store them in a well-ventilated, frost-free area until they are dry. Just let the leaves remain on the bulbs until they become dry.

Most bulbs, including tulip bulbs and daffodil bulbs, should be dried for about a week before you prepare them for storage. Pull any loose any remaining foliage, shake the bulbs gently to remove any clinging soil, dust them with fungicide powder to prevent rot and place them in unsealed paper bags or old nylon stockings with some dry peat moss to keep the bulbs from touching one another. Store them away from sunlight in a cool, dry basement, cellar, garage or shed at 60° to 65°F. Avoid temperatures below 50° or above 70°F unless different instructions are given for a particular bulbs. Follow specific storing instructions for tender bulbs, such as Dahlias,Gladiolus and Begonias.

How to Dig Up and Store Tulip Bulbs

Digging and storing tulip bulbs is a relatively easy process, and saves your bulbs from squirrels and frost damage. However, tulip bulbs don't actually need to be lifted in most of the United States. Unless you find that your bulbs are stunted or damaged after the winter, you don't need to dig up and store tulip bulbs. If you find that your bulbs disappear over winter -- dead due to poor conditions or carried off by hungry critters -- you may want to lift and store your tulip bulbs.

Wait until the foliage has died back on your tulip bulbs before digging them: digging too early can harm the bulbs. Use a trowel to dig about eight inches into the ground around each bulb, then lift the bulbs and shake off the extra dirt. Trim off the extra foliage.

Next, cure the tulip bulbs by setting them in a box of peat, paper, or other packing materials. Allow the bulbs to dry for a few days, then store them on paper in a cardboard box. Use a garage or refrigerator to store the bulbs in cool, dark spot, and replant them in compost-amended soil in the spring.

How to Dig Up and Store Daffodil Bulbs

Digging up and replanting daffodils isn't necessary -- daffodils are cold hardy. However, if you want to transplant your daffodils, or simply save them from getting carried away by squirrels, you can dig them and store them for the winter.

Wait until autumn to dig up daffodils, and don't move them until the foliage has begun to die back. Use a trowel or spade to lift the bulbs, and brush off excess dirt. Then, trim the stems to an inch or two above the bulb. If you're dividing your daffodils, you can break them up at this stage -- however, don't force any new tubers away from parent bulbs. If they seem stuck together, leave them alone!

Before storing daffodil bulbs, let them cure by setting them, spaced apart, on a bed of peat or loam. After a few days, place your bulbs in a box -- again, with a few inches between each bulb -- and store the box in a safe, dark location. Aim for a temperature below 70 degrees, and above 55: garages and sheds are perfect for storing daffodil bulbs!

For more information on lifting and storing dahlias for the winter please see our blog article by clicking here: Lifting and Storing Dahlias in Winter.


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