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How to Separate Daffodil Bulbs

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Bright yellow daffodils are among the first flowers to bloom in spring, sometimes before the last of the winter snow has melted. Blooming from bulbs planted in the fall or left in the ground from the season before, daffodils need separated every three to four years in order to flourish without becoming overcrowded. The benefit to dividing is that you can slowly expand your daffodil garden without the need of buying more bulbs each year. Divide bulbs in late summer once the foliage begins to die back to avoid damaging the bulbs.

Dig up bulbs once the leaves turn yellow but before they begin to wilt and fall away. Dig in a circle around each clump of leaves, then lever them out of the soil with the spade.

Inspect the bulbs to find the joint where two bulbs are attached. Twist or pull the bulbs apart gently--they will snap apart easily.

Brush away the excess dirt from each bulb. Inspect for signs of rot, such a soft spots. Discard any damaged bulbs.

Work 3 inches of compost into new and existing beds to improve soil nutrition and drainage. Choose beds that are well-drained and receive full sun.

Dig holes deep enough so the top of the bulb is 4 to 6 inches beneath the soil surface. Space bulbs 6 inches apart.

Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of bulb fertilizer into the bottom of each planting hole. Work the fertilizer into the soil at the bottom of the hole.

Plant the bulbs in the hole with the leaves emerging above ground. Refill the hole with soil and firm gently.

Water the beds thoroughly. Apply a 4-inch layer of organic mulch on top the beds to preserve soil moisture and temperature throughout winter.


Things You Will Need

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Bulb fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Daffodils are resistant to pests like squirrels and deer.
  • Mark the bulb location with plant stakes if you wish to dig after the foliage dies off completely.


  • Do not remove the leaves until they have die back completely on their own.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.