By Judy Bernard, Master Gardener
Your spring flowering bulbs have given you much pleasure during their bloom time. You have cut off the spent flowers to allow the leaves to photosynthesize and provide nourishment to the bulbs. Now, tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulbs have all died back. You have 2 choices of what to do. Leave them in the ground for next spring, or dig them up and replant them in the fall. You may want to put them back in the same spot or move them to another location.
Dig Them Up Sometimes
If you find that your flowers aren’t doing as well as they did the year before, or are getting too crowded, then they can benefit from being being dug up for replanting.
When you dig up your bulbs and separate them, you will find they have multiplied. Discard any spent or diseased ones, clean them up and let them dry out. Store them in a cool dry place, making sure they aren’t touching each other.
I always find that I have more bulbs than I know what to do with. These can be potted up and brought out in the middle of winter for an early taste of spring. See Fine Gardening’s Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers.
In the fall, when it is time to replant them, prepare the bed by digging down to a depth triple the diameter of the bulb. Add organic material and a little bone meal. You can also use specialized bulb tools to make individual holes. See Canada Gardener’s How and When to Plant Bulbs.
If you wait to dig them up in the fall, the leaves will have died back, making it difficult to know exactly where the bulbs are. By making sure you have marked the site where the flowers were, you won’t miss any when you dig them up.
By digging up and replanting my bulbs, including tulips, I have had them to enjoy for many years.