Storing Tulip Bulbs

You can store tulip bulbs in two ways. According to, you can leave them in the ground year round or dig them up for storage. If you choose to leave tulip bulbs in the ground, you may want to lay down some wire mesh to deter squirrels who love to dig them up. Sometimes out of ground storage is preferred as this makes it easier to sort your colors and rearrange your display for the following year.

You will need:

  • gloves
  • shovel
  • newspaper
  • storage container
  • sand or vermiculite
  • cool and dry storage location

Step 1  Dig your tulip bulbs up with a shovel, being careful not to cut into bulbs. Wait until the leaves have turned yellow. This is the signal that they are done storing energy for the next year.

Step 2 Remove any insects or insect larvae found or any decomposing plant material that might encourage rotting.

Step 3 Dry the bulbs for a few hours on newspaper, or until they feel dry to the touch.

Step 4 Add sand or vermiculite to your storage container and place the bulbs in the container. About three inches for each layer of bulbs will be adequate to help pad the delicate roots and draw moisture away from the outer shell. Vermiculite is preferred as it is light and does not pack down, allowing ventilation around the stored bulbs.

Step 5 Store in a dry and cool location. Bulbs do not store well in hot conditions.

Step 6 Monitor your tulip bulbs for any signs of rot. Remove any affected bulbs to keep the rot from spreading to healthy bulbs.

Step 7 Replant your bulbs in the fall for a beautiful spring display.

Tips Tulip bulbs should be kept in a cool and dry storage location. A dark area of your garage or basement is ideal. Tulip bulbs need a period of cold dormancy of about 8 weeks to insure bloom. If you live in a state where the ground does not freeze, you can use your indoor freezer for this period of time before replanting.   Considerations Tulip bulbs left in the ground during the summer can suffer or rot from too much moisture. Storing outside of the ground helps to keep them dry. Keep your stored bulbs in a location where rodents such as mice cannot eat them.

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