Anybody with a green thumb can tell you the many great reasons for storing plant bulbs between seasons. This is especially important for dahlias and gladiolas.
If you dig up your bulbs, rather than leaving them in the earth for the winter months, it’s essential to check the health of stored bulbs to avoid moisture, mold, mildew and other threats. Time spent inspecting your stored plant bulbs can save you hours of frustration later. Use these tips from our NJ garden center to help you root out rotting bulbs.
Leave them unchecked, and you risk starting the spring planting season with nothing but bad bulbs, as infection on one bulb can quickly spread to others.
A healthy, ready-to-plant bulb should be plump and firm. If you are planting tulips, expect the bulb to have small scales on the surface. Most other bulbs will be smoother, with a velvety and soft exterior, reminiscent of a spring leaf.
The outer layer of a bulb, known as the tunic, may take on a split or loose appearance at or near the time of planting. This effect is actually completely natural. In fact, many arborists see it as a positive trait that can help rooting.
A great way to check bulb health is to use what’s known as the “bucket test.” This simple method consists of putting about a half-dozen bulbs in a bucket of water. Healthy bulbs will sink. The bulbs that float are the ones that you should throw out. The interior of the floating bulbs are rotten and thus lighter, causing them to float.
If you don’t plan on planting the healthy bulbs, make sure to dry them before putting them back into storage. Wet bulbs will contract mold if not dried or eventually planted.
A bad bulb will have a soft, nearly squishy interior and mold or fungus somewhere on the exterior. Discard such bulbs immediately, along with any adjacent bulbs that could have been infected.
If you play your cards right, you won’t have to pay much for bulbs and seeds at the beginning of each planting season. Sure, it will take a few years of accumulating seeds and bulbs while also practicing proper bulb management techniques, but ultimately, the effort will pay off.
Gardens can make themselves profitable for the person(s) tending to them, but the experience can honestly turn negative quickly if a gardener’s bulbs and seed stash are wasted. Of course, if you need more, we have a plentiful stock of bulbs at our NJ garden center.