Keeping Bulbs Healthy During the Winter
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 24, 2017)
It is an all too common occurrence for new gardeners to leave flowering bulbs in the ground during the cold winter months. While this is a fairly common practice, this is one that can all too often leaving the fate of your bulbs up to chance or fate. Keeping bulbs healthy during the winter is a task that just about any gardener can accomplish, particularly if you keep in mind these simple steps.
- Dig them up. The first thing that you should do when you look into keeping bulbs healthy during the winter is to actually dig them up from the soil. While you can potentially keep the bulbs in the ground, you really should remove them. This way if the soil get's too cold the bulbs won't actually get damaged in some way.
- Inspect and prepare. When you have finished removing the bulbs from the soil, take some time to actually inspect them closely. This means that you will need to actually wash or brush off the bulbs. Be careful as you do this, so that you don't actually damage the bulbs that you are trying to protect. When you look at the bulbs, make note of any soft spots, or a bulb that is damaged in some other way, and set them aside. Apply a bit of fungicide to any bulbs that need it, and then set all the bulbs you are going to be keeping aside while you do the rest of your work.
- Prepare your containers. After you have identified the bulbs that you will want to hold onto, you can begin working on the containers themselves. Ideally you will want to use a container that is not air tight, such as paper bags, crates, panty hose, and so on. Fill half of the container with some mulch or peat moss to help protect the bulbs. Write the name of the bulbs on the side of the container.
- Dry the bulbs. Once you have the containers ready, place the bulbs into them, and then allow the bulbs to sit out for a week. This will allow the bulbs to dry out of any excess moisture, and allow the metabolism of the bulbs to enter a "stasis" which means that the bulbs will not continue to grow while being stored.
- Choose the right spot. When the bulbs have finished drying out, you can finally place them in the location that you have chosen to store them. The ideal location will be in a place that is cool, dry, and not overly bright. In many situations this will be either in your greenhouse, in a drawer or something, or even in the basement.
Now that you have your bulbs all stored properly, you can shift your focus over to other tasks. These other tasks can include things like preparing your next gardening endeavors. For example, if you haven't already done so you may want to go ahead and clean out your garden or flower bed of any items that you don't want. In addition, this would be a good time to go ahead and also prepare the soil for your next planting as well.
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