summer bulb storage

John Wickham
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 10:09:09 PDT
I don't have a shed or garage to store my potted winter-growing bulbs, and its been an annual problem for me. This year, I got a bunch of cinder block and some fencing material, and built and ad hoc storage block in a deeply shaded corner of my yard. Its cool-ish, fully shaded, and the pots aren't nested, but resting on a shelf. 

I've always stored them in this area...outside in this deeply shaded area..and they come back each year fine. The main problem is protecting from critters who dig in the pots for various reasons. This year, I've got some hardware cloth frames over the top level and that seems to be handling the problem.

I've learned, though, that certain species will start growing mid-August without any water to encourage them. So its important to watch.


--- On Thu, 6/28/12, Leo A. Martin <> wrote:

From: Leo A. Martin <>
Subject: Re: [pbs] summer bulb storage
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 9:37 AM

Mary wrote

> How are winter-growing bulbs best stored in summer?....
> I have an over-abundant supply of wood shavings....
> There is little chance of any rain here (just dew)....
> ...rarely above 85 F. Not too humid nor too dry....
> If left in the ground, is a mulch recommended?
> Is it better to leave the dry leaves and stalks on the
> surface for insulation or better to clear those away?

I think the ideal way to store winter-growing bulbs in containers is to
store them undisturbed, in their soil in their containers, where they
experience day to night variation in temperature and low average humidity.

But, reality occasionally intervenes.

In my experience, bulbs surrounded by soil or sand will dry out less than
bulbs in wood chips. I would not deliberately unpot my collection to store
over summer in wood chips under any circumstances. Bulbs in pots I or the
dogs break during springtime gathering in get stored in new containers in
soil but not watered until the next season.

In your climate you could store containers in a well-ventilated outdoor
shed. Keep summer rain off most winter-growing bulbs. You may learn the
hard way which ones won't tolerate it and which ones will. Rodent
protection will be mandatory. Rodents are ingenious and fit through tiny

First-year seedlings have a rough time with the first summer. You might
consider not repotting seedlings for 3-4 years and storing them dry in the
house, where it's cooler, the first summer.

Divide and repot winter-growing bulbs while dormant, as late in the summer
as possible so they are disturbed for as little time as possible before
the next growing season. Of course, you have to repot when you have time.
Repot large, tough bulbs early on and seedlings and small bulbs later in
the summer if you are time constrained. If a container breaks during the
summmer I will repot right away into soil but not water until fall.

In the ground, summer mulch is great for many bulbs. It serves to keep
soil temperatures down. But if the mulch retains water it's not a good
idea. And some people say some bulbs do better with a hot baking in the
summer. I'm not sure it's true but I know some bulbs tolerate this baking
and bloom well the following season.

Take off the dead top stuff. It serves no purpose and is a mess. But look
for seeds before you toss it!

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

More information about the pbs mailing list