How to Transplant Bulb Plants


Bulbs fall into two main categories in the garden---spring and summer blooming. Spring blooming bulbs include varieties like daffodils, while summer bulbs include gladiolas. Transplanting the bulbs is a necessity if the garden bed becomes crowded or if the bulbs aren't thriving in their current location. Bulb plants require well-draining soil and full sunlight to thrive, and if their existing bed doesn't supply this they must be transplanted to a better location. Transplant bulb plants when they are dormant to avoid damaging them.

Step 1

Wait until approximately six weeks after the plants quit flowering to transplant. This is mid-summer for spring bulbs and fall for summer bulbs. Plan to dig once the foliage starts to yellow and die back.

Step 2

Dig around the bulbs, about six inches out from the foliage, to avoid damaging them. Slide the trowel under the bulbs and lift them from the ground.

Step 3

Check the bulbs over for soft spots or signs of disease and discard any that are affected. Twist apart attached bulbs and only save the largest and healthiest ones for transplanting.

Step 4

Cut the foliage from the top of the bulbs down to 3 inches using shears or a sharp knife. Brush away any dirt on the bulbs and then set them aside.

Step 5

Prepare the new garden bulb bed. Remove any weeds or large rocks. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost over the soil and work in to a 6- to 8-inch depth.

Step 6

Dig planting holes to a depth three times that of the bulb's width. Space holes 3 inches apart for small bulbs and 6 to 8 inches for larger bulbs.

Step 7

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of bulb fertilizer into the bottom of each hole and cover with soil. Set the bulb into the hole, root side down.

Step 8

Firm dirt over the bulbs and water the bed thoroughly. Apply a 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the bed to preserve soil moisture and temperature.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not let the fertilizer come in direct contact with the bulbs as it will damage or kill them.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Shears
  • Knife
  • Compost
  • Bulb fertilizer


  • University of Idaho Extension
  • Purdue Extension
Keywords: transplanting bulbs, digging flower bulbs, replanting bulb plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.