Many bulbous plants hail from tropical or subtropical areas and are not able to withstand cold winter temperatures. Some gardeners simply treat them as annuals, tossing them at the end of each season. Most bulbs are relatively easy to overwinter indoors, however. Follow these steps for success in storing tender bulbs. Carefully dig the plants after the foliage dries up or is killed by a light frost. Avoid damaging the fleshy structure, because diseases then can readily enter and cause rotting in storage. Cut back the stems to 2 inches. Then shake the bulbs free of soil, leaving any remaining stems and foliage in place. Do not wash the bulbs. Lay the bulbs on paper and allow them to cure (dry) for a few days in a shady, well-ventilated spot at about 60-70 degrees F. Gently remove any remaining soil. Toss out bulbs showing signs of insects or diseases.
To prevent problems in storage, dust bulbs with an insecticide-fungicide mixture labeled for the specific plant. Store bulbs in dry peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite at about 50-55 degrees F. Some bulbs require cooler temperatures; others need warmer temperatures. Check a reliable reference for details. Label stored bulbs carefully to avoid losing track of what you’ve saved. Periodically check the bulbs during storage and remove any damaged or rotting material.