How to Divide Spring Bulbs


Who doesn’t love spring bulbs?  Year after year they signify the end of a long winter as their bold pops of color brighten the dormant landscape.  They require very little effort, simply plant in the fall and you will be rewarded with blooms for years.  Best of all they multiply, creating lots of new bulbs that you can replant or share with friends.
Bulbs create offsets, smaller baby bulbs that grow around the base of the original bulb.  
bulb with offset

You may notice your bulb plants will increase in size and blooms over the first few years, and then suddenly stop performing as well.  Fewer blooms are quite often a sign that your bulbs may be crowded.   For example,  the daffodil below was planted about five years ago.  It produced several flowers previously, but this year there is only one bloom and a lot of greenery.

Underground the bulbs and their offsets are competing for nutrients and space.  Energy used to create and sustain these new offsets is diverted from making blooms.  The easiest way to resolve this is by dividing your bulbs.  It's really easy to do, and you will be rewarded with lots of new blooms in the following years. You can get all your lawn and gardening supplies from your local True Value. 

You can divide your bulbs in the spring or fall.  I prefer the spring since they are easy to find since their foliage is still visible.  You will want to wait until late spring when the blooms have faded and the greenery has significantly died off.  A general rule of thumb is about six weeks from the last bloom.  As the greenery withers, the bulb absorbs energy from the leaves and stores it for next year’s blooms.  
It is important to let this process occur and not to cut back your foliage too soon.  

Start by digging up the cluster of bulbs and laying them on clean newspaper or a drop cloth. 
Be sure not to damage or cut your bulbs as you dig.  Carefully twist and shake the bulbs apart, trying hard not to tear their roots.  

Can you believe all these bulbs came from just one bulb planted a few years ago?

You will want to replant them immediately and keep them from drying out.  Wrap them with wet newspaper if they are going to be exposed to the air for a long period. 

 Return a few bulbs back to the original hole, spacing them out so they have room to divide.  Add a little organic material or compost to the bottom of the hole to enrich the soil.   Plant the remaining bulbs in holes that are 2-3 times deeper than the bulb’s height.

Once again be sure to leave plenty of space between bulbs, about six inches.  Cover the bulbs with dirt, trim back the dead greenery and water generously.  The larger offsets should flower next year, while the smaller ones may take longer to establish.  

You don’t need to wait until you suspect overcrowding to divide your bulbs.  Division can be done at any point once your plants have been growing well for a couple years.  They will benefit greatly from it by rewarding you with lots of healthy foliage and blooms.   

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated
for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been
compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.


Linda said...

Wonderful and informative post.

designchic said...

Your daffodils are gorgeous! What great tips…needing to get to work on mine!! Hope you're having a great start to your week ~

Anonymous said...

Your site has been beckoning me for a couple of weeks, today I got serious and finally read it. Bet you didn't even know it's on Yahoo and has been added to my Start Page.
I've dug up a lot of my bulbs and have just, sos far, left them in a bucket lined with newspaper. I wasn't sure what to do with those tiny ones, mostly tulips, they seem too small to plant yet PLUS I thought I'd need to wait until autumn to do that. Today I observed some of the bulbs have pushed their way to the surface so they'll need to come out pretty soon or the squirrels will eat them. I'm in a new house, new to me, and this year I won the House of the Month award with a sign designating that on my front lawn. I'm so proud of that and I humbly must say, I deserved it!! :) I worked hard while others just clucked at the new lady getting down on her hands and knees and getting dirty.

Alice said...

Sorry, it was the Yard of the Month. It's a 56 home senior community and they all look pretty much alike with the exception of the elevation. BTW, I'm just outside of Atlanta in zone 7/8

Arvie Wilson said...

nice plants and flowers those are beautiful

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