Last fall, I decided to do some experimenting with storage techniques. In previous years, I wrapped my bulbs in newspaper and stored them in cardboard boxes. Rather than wrapping the bulbs in newspaper this time, I stored them in dry peat moss.
When I used to store my bulbs in newspaper, the smaller bulbs would always dry up over the winter. I wanted to try peat moss this time because it holds moisture better than newspaper and I figured the small bulbs wouldn't dry out.
On the flip side, I was nervous that the peat moss would hold in too much moisture and the larger bulbs would rot or mold. I also decided to try experimenting with the containers I used for storage. I had a large plastic storage bin that wasn't being used for anything so I wanted to see how well that would work. In addition to this covered plastic storage bin; I stored some bulbs in a pot and some in a crate, neither of these had a cover. All bulbs were packed with dry peat moss in the same manor, and I didn't water any of them all winter.
- Large plastic bin - I have several different types and sizes of tropical bulbs that I packed in the large bin and some did better than others. To no surprise the plastic bin held too much moisture for some of the different types of bulbs, especially the ones at the bottom of the bin. I used small pots and landscaping fabric to help keep the different types of bulbs separated, I think this helped keep air pockets around the bulbs. Some of the larger bulbs were too moist and a few of them were rotted. The elephant ear bulbs seemed to take the biggest hit as far as rotting. I think elephant ear bulbs must hold more moisture than other bulbs and I must not have let them cure long enough. Most of the bulbs had started to sprout new leaf or root growth when I unpacked the bin.
- Crate and Pot - In these containers, I packed canna lily bulbs only, and both of the containers had about the same results. The peat moss did the trick to hold the moisture in and I only had a couple of the small bulbs on top dry out on me. It was nice to use these containers rather than cardboard boxes because I pulled them out a few weeks earlier than the large bin and started to water them. The bulbs started to grow in the containers so they got a jump start.
- What I learned - Next year I will let the larger bulbs cure longer, especially the elephant ear bulbs. For all bulb types, I will pack the smaller ones at the bottom of the container and the larger bulbs closer to the top. This will work great because the larger bulbs need more time cure, so I can pack up the smaller ones and allow the larger bulbs to cure longer. I am going to pack the elephant ear bulbs in either the crate or pot and not in the plastic bin. I think that I will use the plastic bin again, but I might punch some holes in the bottom and sides to help with air circulation. I also plan to pull the containers out earlier in the spring and see if I can get even more of a jump start on the growing season for them.
As you can see, the gladiolas didn't seem to mind being stored in the large plastic bin. They were already growing like crazy when I opened the bin...