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Friday, September 22, 2023
Sept. 22, 2023

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Gardening With Allen: Divide bulbs now or in fall


Some of my daffodil and tulip bulbs need to be moved and divided. Do I have to wait until fall to dig them?

You could wait until fall to move and divide your daffodil and tulip bulbs. However, they are much more difficult to locate after the foliage is gone. I usually dig and divide mine in early June although it may be later this year because the season is later due to the colder than normal spring weather.

Daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs are developing new bulbs for next year right now underneath their old bulbs. Their green leaves are producing food that’s used to develop the new bulbs. By the time the leaves turn yellow and brown, about a month to six weeks after they bloom, new bulbs are completely developed.

Daffodils produce more than one bulb to replace the bulb that has bloomed out. As a result, they become thicker and more crowded over a several year period. When they are dug and replanted at 4- to 5-inch spacing, they often cover three or four times as much area. Tulips and some other bulbs do not multiply as fast as daffodils but they sometimes become crowded too.

Another reason why daffodils and other bulbs are dug up and replanted is because they become overgrown by adjacent plants. More than any other bulb, daffodils will come up through surrounding vegetation, including lawns and ground covers. I intentionally plant bulbs among ground covers and other flowers to get a longer period of beauty.

Last fall I planted some tulip bulbs where I forgot I had some hyacinths planted. The hyacinths became scattered. I am going to move those hyacinths together again into one group.

I have also created new beds for bulbs by removing some lawn in front of shrubs. Bulbs are beautiful in front of a green background.

If you are planning to divide or move more than one variety or color of bulbs, you may want to make a map as they bloom. Or you could place stakes with color or name on the stake.

One year I dug three different color tulip bulbs that had been planted separately. Because I couldn’t remember which color was planted where, I ended up with mixed colors in the new beds.

You can also mix spring flowering and summer flowering bulbs in the same area for extended bloom. Now is a good time to plant most summer flowering bulbs.

I usually start my begonias and dahlias inside in containers so I can give them a faster start. Other bulbs like gladiolus and lilies can be planted directly outside.