Storing Tender Bulbs During the Winter

storing bulbs

Garden plants with ‘tender’ bulbs are plants that have bulbs, tubers, roots or corns that won’t survive the cold winter temperatures in USDA climate zone 6 or colder. The most commonly-planted ‘tender’ plants include cannas, callas, caladiums, dahlias, tuberous begonias, gladioluses, and tuberoses. Gardeners love these plants because they have decorative foliage and very showy flowers.


To prevent the plant from dying over winter, the bulbs are dug up when the foliage turns brown in the fall or at the latest, when the first frost occurs. The bulbs are stored inside during the winter and re-planted in the spring.


Here’s some tips on digging up tender bulbs and bulb storage over winter.


  1. Using a garden fork or spade, carefully dig around the plant taking care not to damage the roots or cut the bulbs. Dig up the entire root ball.


  1. With your hands, gently loosen and remove as much soil as possible from the roots.


  1. Store the bulbs in a cardboard box and surround the bulb with vermiculite or peat moss (this prevents the bulbs from drying out.)


  1. If you have more than one type of plant, write the name on the box or add a label so you can identify it in the spring.


  1. Make sure the bulbs are stored in an area which will be above freezing all winter such as a garage.


In the spring after the last frost, the bulbs can be planted outside where you can enjoy the tropical foliage and large, bright flowers!

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