How to Shop Bulbs for the Winter

Skitterphoto / Pixabay
Skitterphoto / Pixabay

The word “bulb” is commonly used to describe geophytes, which are a group of plants with “underground storage organs.” There are 5 basic geophytes: true bulbs, corms, roots, bulbs, and tuberous roots. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the more common bulb, corm, and tuber.

Bulbs, corms, and roots are quite various than standard seeds, and therefore need to be saved and managed in a different way. A seed is the embryo of a plant, whereas a bulb, corm, or tuber is actually a mature plant structure. Seeds can be annuals, biennials or perennials, whereas bulbs, corms, or bulbs are just perennials.

Examples of Typical Geophytes

Here’s a valuable guide for finding out the difference between the different kinds of geophytes:

True Bulbs

True bulbs can be classified into two significant categories based upon their covering. Tunicate bulbs have a dry, paper-like external covering, whereas nontunicate bulbs have a scale-like covering and are fragile while being kept or handled. True bulbs frequently produce smaller sized offset bulbs, which can be separated into more plants. The most common types of true bulbs include daffodils, lilies, onions, and tulips.

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Corms look comparable to bulbs however have a fattened and flattened base of the stem. Unlike bulbs that produce balanced out bulbs, corms produce cormels beside the plant. Common types of corms consist of crocus and gladiolus.

Couleur / Pixabay


Rhizomes tend to grow horizontally right below the surface area of the soil. Due to the fact that of their uncommon shape, the plant has several growing points and can be quickly propagated by sufficing into areas. Typical types of roots include the calla lily and the lily of the valley.

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Roots are a special kind of plant that doesn’t suit any standard category. They are defined as underground growing stems that can be propagated by cutting the tuber into sections and commonly have “eyes” that will sprout to plants that grow at the surface area of the soil. Typical ranges of roots consist of caladium, water lilies, and the unusual potato.

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Tuberous Roots

Unlike roots, tuberous roots do not have “eyes,” however they tend to grow at one end and grow in clumps. Propagating tuberous roots is much more hard, as you must have sufficient crown tissue in order to get an effective plant. Typical examples of tuberous roots include dahlias, sweet potatoes, and tuberous begonias.

Why Store Geophytes?

Some garden enthusiasts deal with bulbs, corms, and tubers as annuals, and leave them in the ground all year long. The issue with this viewpoint is that it is a waste of money to purchase new bulbs each year.

Why not take a little time and effort and conserve some of that money on something else for your garden instead? Saving your bulbs, corms, or tubers is the affordable choice. You might even discover that older bulbs produce bigger plants with each passing season.

When to Shop Geophytes

Remove bulbs, corms, or tubers from the soil before frost takes place in your area. If the bulb, corm, or root is exposed to harsh conditions, it might cause rot and the plant might die.

How to Store Geophytes

Here are some practical pointers on how to store particular kinds of geophytes:

Get rid of the bulbs from the soil thoroughly, making sure not to harm the bulb.
Brush off excess soil.
Set bulb aside for a few days in a shady area to dry.
Dust bulbs with a fungicide to prevent decaying during storage.
Set bulbs aside in a vermiculite or peat moss-filled box, ensuring bulbs aren’t touching one another.
Store in a cool area, preferably 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Examine bulbs throughout the winter season to include moisture to the packing material and to search for mildew. Carefully scrape off any mildew that may be taking place and dust bulb with sulfur.
Cut foliage down to about 2 inches above the corm prior to the very first frost of the season.
Get rid of the corm from the soil thoroughly.
Brush off excess soil.
Set the corm aside for a number of weeks in a dry place with excellent air flow. Permit the corm to dry.
Get rid of staying shriveled foliage with sanitized clippers or by twisting off by hand.
Store the corm in an onion bag or a nylon equipping in a cool area, ideally 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trim foliage to about 2 to 4 inches above the bulb after the very first frost of the season.
Check plant-specific directions for how to keep your particular root. For instance, roots like dahlias need to be dried for a few weeks, then crammed in peat moss or wood shavings and stored in between 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas lily rhizomes may just be left in an open shallow box and stored at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Label Your Geophytes Before Storage

Always label bulbs, corms, and tubers prior to storage. It is easy to forget what you stored and where you saved it a couple of months back. Identifying the bulb, corm, or tuber with a name and even the color of the flower, so you know what to plant where.

Inspecting Geophytes After Storage

Some minor shriveling of geophytes is to be anticipated, as wetness has evaporated from the young plant. Excessive shriveling, nevertheless, may show an issue. Toss any geophytes that you think have actually shriveled too much.

Inspect geophytes for rot. Do not ever try planting a bulb, corm, or root that is mushy or has mold on it.


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