A Grower’s Guide to Transplanting Spring Bulbs

12th Aug 2020

Summer is in full swing which means you’ll really be enjoying the fruits of your bulb-planting efforts from the beginning of the year. Your garden should be awash with colour and scent, but you may already be wondering about when the best time is to transplant spring bulbs that naturalise to prepare for next year’s display.

Spring bulbs that multiply and naturalise include: crocuses, daffodils, specie tulips and bluebells.

Why transplant Spring bulbs?

As your bulbs thrive in rich, moist soil with plenty of water and summer sunshine, they’re propagating new off-shoot bulbs (known as daughter bulbs).

These young bulbs need space of their own to develop fully, so carefully moving them to a new location will not only promote beautiful flowering in the coming seasons, but also prevent any of the issues that come with bulb over-crowding, including rot, pests and poor quality flowers.

What you’re really hoping to achieve is year-on-year expansion, as you continuously harvest new bulbs to plant in fresh locations around your garden.

When should I transplant Spring Bulbs?

Spring bulbs gather energy for next year’s blooms through their foliage, so it is important to allow the plants to die back to the ground naturally before attempting to transplant your bulbs, this will usually be around six weeks after they finish blooming. There are a few visual indicators that will let you know the time is right to transplant a group of bulbs – these include crowded flower beds, too few flowers for the amount of green foliage in a bed, or stunted or low-quality flowers on existing plants.

But for most bulbs, the ideal time to transplant is in early Autumn once vegetative growth has fully died back in preparation for the Winter.

How do I transplant Spring bulbs?

The process of transplanting bulbs is relatively simple.

  1. Prepare a bed or beds for your bulbs, using rich composted soil
  2. Dig up your daughter bulbs, but avoid using sharp implements as these bulbs are sensitive. You’ll also need to be careful not to disturb the mother plant bulb, so it may be best to use your hands.
  3. Plant your daughter bulbs carefully in their new beds, spacing them between 8-12cm apart, and root down about two to three times as deep as the height of the bulb.
  4. Cover with mulch, and water gently to keep the soil moist but not over-watered.

You may find that not all bulbs flower immediately next Spring, but rest assured that over the course of the coming seasons, as you transplant more and more, your garden will soon be a mass of colour and scent right through the Spring, into Summer and beyond.