Digging up bulbs

Asked May 8, 2018, 12:24 AM EDT

Hello dear master gardeners, When I moved into my house, the front yard was already stocked with blue bells, tulips, crocus, and daffodils. A friend later gave me more of all of these kinds of bulbs plus hyacinth and iris. I added to the pre-existing bulb mess and now I feel quite overwhelmed with the spattering of plants that come up here and there. There must be hundreds planted by now. I was wondering if it would be okay to remove my bulbs while the greens are still attached (so I know where they are and what they are) and then cut the greens to store them with the hope of re-planting them in a more organized fashion. Do you think this would kill any of the bulbs I mentioned? I'm not sure what else to do. Any advice you have is greatly appreciated! Thank you! - Sophia Garcia

Multnomah County Oregon bulbs

1 Response

Thank you for your question, Sophia. You are wise to think of the long term effects of crowded bulbs. However, it's just a bit too early to start digging them up, since the leaves ("greens") are sending carbohydrates they produce (through photosynthesis) back to the bulb to supply energy for next years foliage and blooms. It is recommended that you wait until the leaves begin to turn yellow--when they're no longer photosynthesizing, and then remove them. This Extension article explains how.

They probably will all not turn yellow at the same time, but you can remove them as each one stops producing food. BTW, you might be able to find new homes for them by offering them to a school, church or other group that has spaces to fill. If re-planted correctly, these 'old' bulbs will make 'babies,' and your yard will be full once again. Hope this is helpful. Good luck!