How to Remove & Store Lily Bulbs

Written by carrie terry
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Lilies grow from bulbs that require only minimal care. When they bloom, lilies display many colours on their star-shaped petals, and can add striking beauty to any garden. The bulbs, if cared for properly, can grow large clusters of stems, which will sprout many flowers. Once lilies are established, those bulbs can be dug up, divided and replanted for new plants. Follow a couple easy steps to divide lily bulbs and store them for replanting in the future.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Garden fork
  • Pruning shears
  • Ventilated sacks
  • Newspaper

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  1. 1

    Use the garden fork to dig into the soil and lift out the clump of lily bulbs and roots.

  2. 2

    Remove the dirt from around the roots, and use water to wash off any lingering dirt.

  3. 3

    Find bulb divisions and new bulb developments (bulblets). Divide the bulbs in these spots.

  4. 4

    Pull apart the larger bulbs. Pull the bulblets off the stems to which they're attached. If the bulbs and bulblets are stubborn, use a twisting motion to separate them.

  5. 5

    Prune the old stems off all the bulbs.

  6. 6

    Wrap roots in damp newspaper.

  7. 7

    Put the bulbs you want to store in bags that have good ventilation, like the bags that potatoes and onions come in.

  8. 8

    Store the bags in areas that don't receive direct sunlight.

  9. 9

    Check the bulbs every couple of weeks to make sure the newspaper is still damp.

Tips and warnings

  • Divide lilies every three years or so, or when you notice restricted blooms on your plants.
  • Divide lilies in September or October.
  • Don't use a shovel to dig up lily roots; the sharp edge might cut or damage the bulbs.
  • Do not store your bulbs in sealed bags, as the bulbs will rot.
  • Dry roots will die. Roots that are kept too wet will rot.

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