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How to Dig Up Tulip Bulbs for Replanting

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Tulips are one of the first blooming plants in spring. They have bulbous root systems that are hardy and can stay underground during the winter in most environments. They are self propagating and every few years, they need to be dug up, divided and replanted. In addition, since tulips are quite resilient, they can withstand being dug up just to be replanted elsewhere.

Clip off the tulip leaves after they have turned brown or yellow in the fall. At that point, the bulb has stored sugar in the bulbs for next year’s growth. Cut the leaves about 2 inches high.

Dig straight down around the tulip plant with a shovel or garden fork. Dig about 2 inches away from the stem. Tulip bulbs are usually 4 to 6 inches below the soil.

Push down on the handle of your shovel, garden fork or trowel to lift the bulbs out of the soil gently.

Shake off the excess soil from each bulb. Separate any bulbs that are attached to each other by gently pulling them apart with your hands.

Replant your tulip bulbs with the tips facing up in a sunny location with well draining soil. Plant them 4 to 6 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.


Things You Will Need

  • Clippers
  • Shovel, garden fork or trowel

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.