Transplanting spring-blooming bulbs at any time of year is possible. Although we’ve been trained by mail-order greenhouses to plant bulbs in the fall, I have found that digging up and moving my spring-blooming bulbs is best accomplished just after the plants have finished flowering.
Why? For one thing, you can still see the foliage but there is no risk of breaking the flower stalks. This makes it easier to space the plants appropriately. If a clump of daffodils is getting big, you can divide it and multiply the effect in your flower beds.
Another reason late spring or early summer is good for transplanting is that it gives the relocated bulbs even more time than fall transplanting would to root and store energy before they go dormant.
Also, the ground is usually softer and easier to work on early in the growing season.
Finally, it’s so much easier to identify the varieties you are growing and relocate them to where you think they’ll look best, without going to the trouble of labeling, tagging, or mapping out future plans on paper.
Spring-blooming Bulbs Grow in Summer, Too
I’ve moved hyacinths in early summer and daffodils toward the end of June.
Some of my daffodil varieties keep their green foliage well into June and early July.
Recently, I found some daffodils growing in the compost pile. These are definitely hardy plants. I moved them to the border around the garden.
As for grape hyacinth, I am constantly digging up these little bulbs all season as I work in the flower beds. I just replant them as I go, with no ill effects.
The plants and the bulbs will continue to make and store energy as long as the leaves are green. Once the foliage dies back, photosynthesis has stopped and the bulb is now like a storage container for next year’s growth.
How to Move Them
If you are moving a small, single plant use a long hand trowel to dig them up. I like the one I bought from our neighborhood nursery ages ago. It is one piece of stainless steel with a plastic handle wrap, about ten inches long. It’s got a pointed tip and sharp edges; perfect for digging.
Carefully loosen the soil around the plant and grasp the stem and leaves. Gently tug and dig until the bulb comes loose. Don’t worry too much if you break or split the bulb. Replant it anyway. You may end up with two plants!
The new planting hole should be as deep as you can dig with your trowel. We have a lot of clay around here, so I don’t always follow depth rules and still have good luck.
If you have a large clump to dig up and move, use a full-size garden shovel. It may take quite a bit of digging, depending on how many years the plant has been growing. If it is a large clump, I usually divide it into two or three smaller pieces for replanting.
Spring-blooming bulbs bring such a welcome color splash after a long winter. With a minimal amount of investment and care, you can enjoy these beauties for years and years.
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