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How to Dig Up Flower Bulbs

Bulbs add perennial color to the garden. Spring bulbs flower in early spring and fade back by summer. Summer blooming bulbs add color from early to late summer depending on the variety. Both may need occasional digging up and dividing to avoid overcrowding, and summer bulbs may also require digging up each fall for winter storage. Digging up bulbs is a chance to expand your bulb gardens for just the cost of a little effort. The new bulbs can be planted elsewhere in the garden to add more blooms to your beds.

Dig up spring bulbs six weeks after flowers fade. Dig up summer bulbs after the foliage dies back in fall or after the first fall frost, depending on which happens first.

Dig around the plant with a blunt-tipped trowel. Dig down to a depth of 6 to 8 inches then gently slide the trowel under the bulb, taking care not to nick it. Lift the bulbs from the ground.

Brush off any excess soil from the bulbs and inspect them for signs of damage. Dispose of any with cuts or soft spots.

Break apart bulbs by twisting them apart if necessary. Bulbs will easily snap apart.

Replant bulbs in a well drained, full sun bed to a depth three times their width immediately after digging up. Store bulbs in dry vermiculite at 55 degrees F, if not immediately replanting after digging up.

Reuse Narcissus Flower Bulbs

Add water-soluble fertilizer to the water of narcissus bulbs forced in shallow dishes. This provides added nutrients for the growing plant and may provide enough nutrients for the plant to store some its energy in the bulb. Pot the bulbs in equal parts peat moss, perlite and potting soil as soon as the flowers have faded. The leaves will eventually yellow and die, but as long as they are green, they will continue to manufacture food. Now that the blooms have passed, the plant channels excess energy into the bulb. Water to keep the soil evenly moist. Cut back the foliage, once it yellows and begins to die back, and move the pot to a cool room that remains above freezing. Blooms typically appear the following spring, but may surprise you with a bloom or two the first year.


Mark the location of spring bulbs after flowering, as they may otherwise be hard to find once the foliage dies off.

Always label the bulbs if you will be storing them to avoid confusion at replanting time.

Replant spring bulbs immediately or save them until fall for replanting.


Moisture will damage stored bulbs. Always store in a dry place.

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