Tulip and Allium Bulbs*


Please help! Last summer I dug up my tulip & allium bulbs as they were not producing well anymore. A lot of the bulbs that I dug up were well formed but undersized. Some were normal size and had flowered and died down before I dug them up. I dried them well in the shade and stored them in a couple open pans in my cool, dark garage. I was planning on letting them rest and replanting them in a better location in the fall. Unfortunately, unexpected events occurred and they did not get planted. They are still in my garage, heated, not freezing, but cool on the floor. They are still firm and healthy looking. A few are starting to sprout green growth on the top. Can I salvage them? I live in Northwestern Ontario. Zone 3? North of Dryden, Ontario. I have a spare refrigerator. Should I plant them in dry sand and put in the fridge for a couple of months? If so, what sort of container do you suggest? Or do I have to put them in topsoil now and actually let them grow? Or am I just out of luck to save them??? I know that I messed up but would like to save them if I can. I just noticed the green sprouts today so I am really running out of time. Please give me advice. Thanks!


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your enquiry. We note that Dryden Ontario is currently experiencing temperatures below zero, however, The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre  suggests that you plant your bulbs and take your chances. No matter what, they’re better off giving it a fighting chance in the ground or a chilled pot than wasting away in the garage or cupboard. Flower bulbs are survivors by nature’s design. Every year stories abound of bulbs that bloom after being planted under the most improbable circumstances.

More information from The International Flower Bulb Centre: The general rule for planting depth is at least twice the height of the bulb (a minimum of 5 cm/2 inches). Perennial bulbs extract a lot of nutrients from the soil and will need supplementary fertilizing during the growing season and they recommend an inorganic bulb fertilizer, however good lashings of compost would provide an organic boost.

An option is to pot up some bulbs and store the pot in a cool location, either burying it in the ground or in a place that stays colder than 48° F/8°C most of the time but that doesn’t get as severely cold as it is outside.

We wish you much success with your bulbs and reap the benefit of colourful spring bloom.