How to Lift and Store Bulbs and Tubers

Learn how to keep tender plants, like tulips and daffodils, under cover during chilly winter months.

'Pink Impression' Tulip

'Pink Impression' Tulip

The lustrous petals of ‘Pink Impression’ tulip are a deep, rich rose at the center, shading to a delicate pale pink at the edge, while doing amazing things in between that include shades of melon to sunset.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • garden fork
  • sand
  • boxes or trays

Step 1: Lift Bulbs

Lift Bulbs Out of Soil in Fall with Garden Fork

Lift Bulbs Out of Soil in Fall with Garden Fork

At the end of the growing season, tuber or bulbs should be dug and stored for the winter in a frost free place. Use a fork to loosen the soil around the tuber or bulbs and lift out of the soil. Remove surplus soil and discard any damaged bulbs.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Lift bulbs out of the soil in fall using a fork, being careful to avoid damaging them with the prongs. Discard any damaged bulbs.

Step 2: Prepare Bulbs

Trim Off Dying Top Growth and Lay Bulbs Out to Dry

Trim Off Dying Top Growth and Lay Bulbs Out to Dry

Inspect all bulbs for disease damage. Lay bulbs out on a wire rack to dry. Store bulbs in cardboard boxes, since they allow air circulation. All bulbs need to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place such as root cellar or basement.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Remove soil, trim off dying top growth, and lay the bulbs out on a wire rack. Once they are dry, store the bulbs in boxes or trays of sand in a frost-free place.

Step 3: Lift Tubers

Lift Tubers from Ground in Fall Using Garden Fork

Lift Tubers from Ground in Fall Using Garden Fork

Dig carefully around plants, using a fork or spade, try to avoid damaging or cutting the roots. Lift out the clump of soil and roots, taking care not to damage the tubers. Disease will enter easily if the skins are damaged.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

The process of lifting tubers is similar to that of lifting bulbs. Lift tubers out of the ground during fall using a fork, digging around the edge of the clump to prevent damage to the the roots.

Step 4: Prepare Tubers

Shake Excess Soil from Tubers and Allow to Dry

Shake Excess Soil from Tubers and Allow to Dry

Shake off excess soil from tubers, trim away the dying foliage and stems, and let the tubers dry out. Once dry, dust off remaining soil and store tubers for the winter.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shake off excess soil, trim away any dying foliage and stems, and let the tubers dry out completely. Once dry, dust off the remaining soil, and store the tubers.

Next Up

How to Plant Springtime Bulbs

Give your lawn and garden spaces new life with these colorful design tips for planting bulbs.

Plant a Bed of Spring Bulbs

Harbingers of spring, bulbs transform sleeping gardens into oceans of color as the seasons turn.

Fall-Blooming Bulbs

The down side of planting bulbs in the fall: having to wait till the following spring to see the flowers. With these plants, though, you get flowers in just 3 weeks.

How to Force Daffodil Bulbs

Tuck these spring-flowering bulbs into containers while the weather's chilly for an early touch of spring.

How to Design a Garden With Mums

Make your fall garden glow with jewel-colored mums.

Mums vs. Asters and How To Use Them in Your Landscape

Don't toss those potted mums and asters after they bloom, plant them in your yard.

How to Plant Bulbs

Learn to plant bulbs in your garden with this step-by-step guide.

How to Plant Bulbs in a Border

Most bulbs prefer free-draining soil, as they like to be fairly dry when dormant. 

How to Plant Bulbs in Grass

Create a natural-looking display of bulbs in your lawn by adapting your planting technique to the size of the bulbs.

10 Essential Fall Gardening Tasks to Do Right Now (You'll Be So Glad You Did)

Tackle this list of fall gardening chores, then get back to that hot toddy. You deserve it!