The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Emerging Bulbs

Question: I want to transplant my tulips and irises that have begun to emerge. Is it okay to transplant at this stage? If so, any tips on transplanting them?

Answer: It can be risky to transplant bulbs that are just about ready to flower, but if you can't wait until after they've bloomed and the foliage is dying back, try this method: transplant in late afternoon, on a cloudy day if possible. Water them well the day before so the soil is quite moist and easy to dig. Prepare the planting holes the day before, too, so the bulbs are out of the ground for the shortest length of time possible. Use a fork to loosen the soil and partially unearth the bulbs. Carefully grasp each by the bulb, not by the stems or foliage. Dig around with your fingers to carefully remove all of the roots without damaging them. Then transplant into the new holes, making sure each is growing at the same soil level it was before. Water them well after gently tamping soil around them. If the foliage doesn't wilt within a few days, you were successful in keeping shock to a minimum and the bulbs should continue to grow on schedule. If they go into shock, they may not flower on time.

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