Spring bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses periodically need to be thinned, or divided, when they become overcrowded. Ovecrowded bulb gardens produce few blooms or fail to bloom entirely as the plants try to share too few nutrients in little space.
Daffodils need to be thinned every three to four years, while smaller bulbs like hyacinths and crocuses might not need to be thinned for five or more years. When thinning the beds, save healthy bulbs for new plantings or give them to other gardeners you know instead of tossing them.
Dig up bulbs eight weeks after all blooms have faded and as the foliage begins to yellow and die back. Dig around each plant to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and slide the spade under the bulbs and lift them out of the soil.
Brush away excess soil from each clump of bulbs. Rinse off lightly with water if the individual bulbs and where they join is difficult to see under the dirt.
Locate the joints between separate bulbs. Break apart bulbs where they join by gently twisting them apart.
Inspect bulbs for signs of damage, disease or soft spots that indicate rot. Discard any damaged bulbs and those that are small in comparison with the rest. Choose the largest bulbs for replanting.
Replant the bulbs in the bed to a depth three times the width of the bulb. Space larger bulbs, such as daffodils, 6 to 8 inches apart and space small bulbs, such as crocuses, 3 to 4 inches apart. Plant extra bulbs from the thinning in a new bed or give them away.