How Do You Keep Spring Bulbs from Rotting?

“How do you keep spring bulbs from rotting?” Question from Pam of Fort Worth, Texas

Answer: There are several reasons your spring bulbs could be rotting. Here are a few possibilities and solutions.

Warm Zone Spring Bulbs

Your USDA Hardiness Zone 8 location is just on the edge of spring bulb-growing country. Most old-fashioned, cherished spring bulbs, like standard crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips, won’t survive in zones warmer than 8. This is because they require the chill of winter over a certain period of time to complete their life cycle. If winters are too warm and short, spring bulbs can decline and eventually rot.

Thankfully, there are some great classic spring bulbs sure to grow really well at or above Zone 8 without prechilling. These include specific tulips, like Apricot Impression Darwin hybrid tulipRed Emperor tulip, and Yellow Golden Apeldoorn tulip (click here to read more about growing and planting tulips), as well as Narcissus ‘Ziva’Peruvian scilla, Spanish bluebells, ornamental onions, and poppy flowering anemones.

Soil for Spring Bulbs

Bulb soils must be fertile, raised, and amended with quality soil amendments, like Sphagnum peat moss and compost. Larger bulbs are generally planted 6-8 inches deep, and they will not tolerate excess moisture at the root zone. Too much moisture will encourage bulb rot.

Bulb Diseases

Certain fungal and bacterial diseases will also cause bulb rot. Be sure that the bulbs you plant are firm, healthy, and show no signs of damage or rot. Cool, wet weather and saturated soils encourage these diseases.

I hope this information helps!

Happy bulb growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist




Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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