Flowering bulbs can provide a spectacular display of color in the early spring, before many other plants begin to grow. Unfortunately, most bulbs only bloom once, then gardeners are left with the necessity of replacing them if they want to have more color in the garden. Fortunately, the hardiness of bulbs makes removing them and planting them again the following year a good option.
When to Dig Up Your Bulbs
Most bulbs can be dug up and replanted, but they must be treated a certain way for them to be able to grow again. To successfully dig up your bulbs for replanting, you need to wait until they have finished flowering, but prevent them from going to seed. You can do this by clipping off the flower head just as the flower begins to wilt. Without the flower head, the plant will store energy back in the bulb and the leaves will begin to wilt as well. Once the leaves have begun wilting, the bulb can be carefully dug up and stored for replanting the following year. Each spring-flowering bulb blooms and wilts at a different time, so you will need to watch each variety carefully to determine when the best time is to dig them up.
You can do this with most spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses. In fact, if your bulbs have "naturalized" as many varieties of crocuses and daffodils do, or spread so there are too many in one area or the plants are growing too close together for successful growth and flowering, it is recommended that you dig them up after spring flowering is done and move them in the fall to locations where they will grow better. Bulbs that grow too close together will fail to flower and, once they have grown too thin to flower one year, they will continue to grow poorly and never flower.
Store your dug-up bulbs in a dark, well-ventilated area--paper grocery sacks work well for this--until early fall, when it is time to move them to cold storage in your refrigerator. Most bulbs are originally native to colder climates than are found in the United States, so they require at least six weeks of "extra" winter before the weather turns cool on its own. Store bulbs in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, but be sure that they are several inches away from ripening fruit, which emits gases that can cause bulbs to rot.