The Q&A Archives: Moving Established Bulbs?

Question: I am a beginning gardener and last fall planted many bulbs in our garden. Now it is spring and the are all up and beautiful but I am realizing I made some mistakes with their placement - mainly, that my tulips are too crowded. There is no space to put perennials amongst them, and I think they'd look better and be healthier with more space around them. When is the best time to move my bulbs? Do I have to wait until next spring? Do I really have to leave their foliage alone when the flowers are gone? Isn't that going to look pretty awful?

Answer: You can move the bulbs as soon as they have bloomed, if you are careful about it. Make sure they are well watered the day before you move them. Dig them up with a nice root ball attached, then replant immediately into prepared soil at the same depth as they were planted before. Water well to settle the soil. It's best to do this on a cloudy day right before it rains. With luck they will never know they have been moved. Yes, the foliage is important and must be allowed to grow and fade naturally. Sometimes bulbs are planted at the back of the bed and perennials planted in front for just that reason. Alternatively, you can treat tulips as annuals and replant new bulbs every fall, that way you can remove them as soon as they have bloomed.

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