Storing Tulip Bulbs

By Shawn McClain

For years, I have been digging and storing Kingwood’s tulip bulbs for the next years’ display. Each year, I am asked how to go about this process.

Volunteers and Staff pulling tulips

Volunteers and Staff pulling tulips

Step 1: Observe the foliage as it starts to die back or matures in late spring or early summer. This is when the bulb enters dormancy. It is time to start digging.

Groundskeepers about to pull tulips

Groundskeepers about to pull tulips

Step 2: Use a potato fork or trowel to dig out the bulb. Loosen the soil in and around the bulb. When loose, reach down near the surface of the soil and pull on the stem of the tulip bulb to extract them.

Use a trowel, or other small digging tool to get your tulips

Use a trowel, or other small digging tool to get your tulips

Step 3: Snap or cut the leaves and stem from the base of the bulb.

Snapping off the tulip foliage and sorting

Snapping off the tulip foliage and sorting

Step 4: Gently shake or removal excess soil to reduce rotting, disease and weed problems.

Step 5: Storing tulip bulbs in a nylon mesh bag away from sunlight in a cool, well ventilated area such as a dry basement, garage or shed at 60 to 65 degrees F.

Bags of tulips

Step 6: Monitor the condition of the bulbs frequently and up to the time of grading for size in September.

Stored tulips at Kingwood

Stored tulips at Kingwood

After following these processes you are now ready to replant in October and early November.

Enjoy your labor of favorite tulip bulb(s)!

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