Bulbous plant species cycle through vegetative and reproductive growth stages; the bulb grows to flowering size during the vegetative stage and the plant flowers during the reproductive stage. Certain environmental conditions are needed to trigger the transition from one stage to the next, such as the shift from a cold winter to spring. Once the flowering period is over, the plant enters a foliage period of about six weeks during which time the plant absorbs nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun for setting flowers for the next year. Bulbs dug up before the foliage period is completed will not bloom the following year but then should flower normally in subsequent years.
After the foliage period is completed, bulbs may be dug up for replanting elsewhere. Any surface moisture should be dried, then the bulbs may be stored up to about 4 months for a fall planting. Storing them much longer than that may cause the bulbs to dry out inside and become nonviable.