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How to Transplant Bulbs in the Spring

Bulbs are usually transplanted in the fall, however, this doesn’t mean you can’t transplant them in the spring. If possible, transplant your bulbs early in the spring, as soon as the ground is soft enough for you dig them out, especially if they are spring blooming bulbs. If your bulbs do not grow or bloom the spring you transplant them, or that summer, they should do so the next year.

Cut off all the old foliage if you didn’t do it already in the fall. If new foliage has begun to grow, leave it on and transplant the bulbs with it on.

Estimate how deep the bulbs are below the ground, which depends on what kind of plant they are and how long they have been planted. Small bulbs such as snowdrops are planted about 3 inches from the surface, while large bulbs such as narcissusi are planted 8 inches from the surface. Consider also that the bulbs may be a couple inches deeper than when they were originally planted, especially after many years.

Dig the bulbs out using a garden fork, trowel or shovel, being careful not to harm the bulbs. For the first bulb of its kind, dig a bit deeper than you estimated in Step 2. Dig a circle around the plant and then begin to pull it up in several places to lift the bulb out of the soil. Use the depth of the first bulb to help you determine how deep to dig the others of its kind.

Shake off excess dirt and remove clumps with your hands. If you notice your bulbs are big and have other bulbs attached to one another, this is a good time to divide the bulbs. Simply remove bulbs from each other with your hands.

Replant the bulbs immediately. Remember that smaller bulbs are planted closer to the surface and larger ones are planted deeper. If the soil is not well-draining, mix in some compost before planting. Always point the tip upward and backfill the soil and tamp it down to remove any voids. Water the bulbs well.

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