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Dividing and Replanting
Bulbs, Corms, Tubers and rhizomes

April 29,1998

Karen wrote:

I have daffodils growing in my pachysandra and would like to dig them out:

  1. When should I dig them out?
  2. Can I hold the bulbs to transplant later, or do I need to transplant right away?
  3. Would the same rules hold true for tulips and iris?

Thank you, Karen


Katelyn wrote:

Dear Garden helper, I might be moving across the country soon and would like to take my many bulbs with me. I have Irises, dahlias, gladiolas, tulips, and daffodils. They would have to travel over 2,000 miles. My question is how can I protect them throughout the trip? Where should I keep them?

Sincerely, Katelyn

Bulbs in a bowl
Bulbs as well as perennials should be dug and divided in early spring, or in the fall when the plants are dormant. The nutrients that are needed to provide the next years flowers, develop through energy the leaves absorb after the flowers are spent. For this reason it is best to leave the plant alone until the foliage dies back naturally. Ideally, daffodil (Narcissus) should be replanted within three weeks. Tulips are a little more tolerant if they are kept cool, and may be stored somewhat longer. Iris should be planted from July through early October so that they have a chance to establish themselves before winter. Dahlias can be held in a cool dry place, and planted the following spring.
There are times when you simply can't follow the rules, so it becomes necessary to use common sense. Don't dig and divide a plant in the heat of the summer, and then try to replant it in an area of full hot sun. It is far better to create a temporary garden in the shade somewhere, and then move the bulbs or plants to their permanent home when the weather has cooled in the fall. In the case of a long move, pack the bulbs in sawdust, inside a sturdy box, and keep them as cool as possible.

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