Updated at: 10-11-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

Daffodils, tulips, and bluebells are just a few of the beautiful plants whose roots are bulbous. Do bulbs, on the other hand, have a shelf life? It’s also possible to preserve bulbs for how long.

Bulb storage should be limited to a period of twelve months at the most. Older bulbs can still develop, but the chances of getting a healthy, flowering plant are slimmer.

What if you’ve suddenly discovered a packet of unplanted bulbs and are unsure if they will grow? The question, ‘how long do bulbs last unplanted?’ will be answered in this article.

How Long Do Bulbs Last Unplanted?

Unplanted bulbs, according to most gardeners, can last up to a year. A few variables, such as the type of bulb and storage circumstances, affect the bulb’s life expectancy.

Bulbs you forgot to plant may still thrive if you locate them later. In the spring, you can check to see if the bulbs have gone rotten and plant them if they haven’t. If preserved properly, some bulbs can persist for years, so it’s worth trying to grow older bulbs.

How Long Do Bulbs Last Unplanted? - Krostrade

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to bulbs. There is no need to worry about seeds becoming bad, even if the packaging claims they are over their planting date. However, bulbs must be stored properly. Some bulbs, such as flowering varieties, are more delicate and may not live as long as other types.

Spring Bulbs

To ensure the longest life span possible, it is best to keep spring bulbs such as daffodils and snowdrops in an airtight container. A year’s worth of use is expected from these bulbs. To keep bulbs fresh for a long time, they need to be kept in the right conditions that prevent them from drying out or going bad.

As the temperature rises, the flower will begin to grow from the bulb. Unplanted bulbs need similar conditions to those they’d find in the soil if you want them to live.

How To Store Unplanted Bulbs?

When planted in the fall, most bulbs will sprout in the early spring months. You can store bulbs till next year if you bought them at the wrong time of year or missed planting them. If you receive or purchase bulbs in the summer, it’s preferable to store them until the fall rather than planting them prematurely.

If the frost has come early and the ground has frozen before gardeners have had a chance to plant their bulbs, they sometimes decide to store them instead of planting them. If the ground is frozen, don’t try to plant bulbs since digging will be difficult and the bulbs will suffer from the extreme cold. Instead, keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place until the soil thaws.

Because they won’t grow in the winter, summer bulbs must be planted as early in the spring as possible. A frost will kill these plants, therefore they can be preserved until the correct time of year to plant them again.

How To Tell Whether A Bulb Has Gone Bad?

Whether you neglected to plant them or put them off because of the weather, you can inspect them before planting. In order to determine whether or not the bulb is still good and likely to grow, you need keep an eye out for a few telltale signs.

Bulb spoilage is much more likely than seed spoilage. In contrast, a bulb that isn’t going to grow can be easily identified by its softness, mildew, or unpleasant odor. Bulbs should have the following characteristics:


Healthy bulbs have a plump appearance and a solid touch. If a bulb feels mushy when squeezed, it’s rotting from the inside out. When bulbs have been stored for an extended period of time, they are more likely to have dried out and appear smaller. These telltale indicators point to a faulty bulb.


In the event that a bulb smells terrible, it should be thrown away because it’s most likely rotting from the inside.

How Long do Bulbs Last Unplanted? - GFL Outdoors

Look For Mold

It is more likely that bulbs that have been stored in moist conditions may rot and mold.

Test The Buoyancy

Floating a bulb is a terrific technique to tell if it’s going to grow or not. Bulbs that float have started to rot on the inside, which makes them lighter. It’s safe to plant a bulb if it sinks to the bottom of the pot.

How To Store Bulbs?

It’s easy to tell if a bulb is going to grow if it’s able to float. Floating bulbs have begun to deteriorate from the inside out, making them lighter. It is OK to plant a bulb if it sinks.

Peat moss is another option for storing bulbs if you want to keep them dry. Cool and dark are the best places to keep them. Summer bulbs demand a slightly warmer temperature than spring bulbs, so this is the best solution. You should check on your bulbs every few weeks to make sure they haven’t started to decay. Throw out any bulbs that are no longer working.

How Many Years Do Flower Bulbs Last?

Tulips, crocus, daffodils, and anemones are some of the most popular bulbs for gardeners to plant. You can expect these flowers to grow for three to five years if you provide them with good soil and nutrients in your garden.

As a bonus, you can leave perennial bulbs in the ground and they will often self-sustain in their surroundings. It’s easy to maintain a lush landscape without any effort from you thanks to the bulbs’ ability to self-spread offsets.

The term “annual bulb” refers to plants that bloom only once a year.

To maintain your garden vibrant, you’ll need to pull them up and replant them after the growing season. Annual bulbs rarely flower again after being replanted or left in the ground. However, they may produce leaves.

For example, if you want your tulips to blossom for several years, you’ll need to dig them out and keep them during the winter at very certain temperatures and conditions. Performing this process assures that the plants will be able to re-grow.

However, in temperature hardiness zones 5-9, daffodil and anemone bulbs can be ignored and watch them grow year after year. To avoid bulb damage, it’s better to keep them during the winter in cooler regions.

Let the foliage die back fully before removing the dead leaves from your bulbs. This will give them a fighting chance of reblooming each year. When a flower is done blooming, it uses the leaves to harvest and store the energy it needs for the following year in the bulb.

It can be difficult for gardeners who want a neat and orderly landscape to look at browning and limp vegetation! To disguise the withering foliage of my bulbs, I always plant a variety of perennials around them.

I forgot To Plant Bulbs! Now What?

Gardening supplies are out in full force in spring, and every year, I find a few bulbs I either failed to store after pulling or are still in their packaging that I haven’t had a chance to plant.

Don’t freak out if this happens to you. You can often revive these bulbs and turn them into viable plants by following the methods below.

Step 1 – Choose When To Plant

In The Fall

Plant fall-found bulbs if your soil is still diggable and free of weeds. To get them going again, give them a thorough bath in the tub. So that they can sprout and reappear the following spring, they should be allowed to overwinter.

Don’t worry if they don’t bloom the next year. A whole growing season may be required for the bulb to re-establish itself and store enough energy for the following year’s blooms.

In The Winter

Put bulbs in a pot if you discover them after the season has begun. Put the pot in an unheated but well-ventilated location like a garage or patio room that is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the plants from overheating.

Avoid freezing the bulbs. Three months is the minimum amount of time you should keep the bulbs cooled. Bring them inside to force growth, or leave them outside to bloom in the container until the ground thaws, and then return them to the ground after the ground thaws and transplant them.

In The Spring

Make sure to plant and water any bulbs you uncover in the spring. The bulbs should sprout.

To expect them to bloom if the bulbs were kept in a place that didn’t receive the 12-14 weeks of dormancy they need is a big no-no.

Step 2 – Choose Storage

Bulb storage in the fall or winter is an option for spring planting.

To prevent decay, remove any dirt and debris. For a week, place a damp bulb in direct sunlight to dry it out.

In a box of dry peat moss, sawdust, or even packing peanuts, place the bulbs with their roots down. Make certain that the bulbs do not come into contact with one another. Add more material and store them in a dark, dry area.

The bulbs’ box should be kept in a cool attic, garage, or basement where temperatures will not drop below freezing. Additionally, they should never be kept near a heat source of any kind.

How Long do Tulip Bulbs Last? [And How to Extend It] - GFL Outdoors

TIP: Never store bulbs in locations where you are also storing any fruit, like apples. Flower bulbs are poisoned by ethylene gas, which is released when fruit ripens.

How Do I know If Bulbs Have Gone Bad?

Keep bulbs away from food, such apples, in the same place where they are stored. When fruit ripens, it emits ethylene gas, a poisonous chemical that can harm flower bulbs.

Where do you get your bulbs from if they’re packaged? How can you know if they’ll grow as expected?

In order to determine how firm the bulbs are, you should be able to test them out of the container. Look for a “best before” date on the label if they’re fine. Dates on the bulbs of most flower firms protect customers from being disappointed.

Often, mass shops are still selling bulbs that are nearing the end of their useful life. Many times, I’ve succumbed to the attraction of cheap bulbs, only to discover that they’re a waste of money and time when they don’t produce.

I also weigh the bulbs in my hand to see if they’re still alive. When a bulb is alive, it should have some weight to it. Replace any dried-out or dead bulbs you find in a bag.


In the correct conditions, bulbs can be safely preserved for up to a year. Taking care of your bulbs will ensure that they don’t deteriorate. You should plant your bulbs as soon as possible rather than keeping them in storage. The less likely a bulb is to grow the longer it is stored.