Gardeners can allow their flowering bulbs to supply them with more flowers, for free, by diving them at the right time of year. However, not all flowering bulbs requires the same care or are divided and replanted at the same time of year, so for multiplying success, a gardener must understand a bulb’s needs. These needs include the importance of diving, when to divide and how to divide for each type of spring, summer or fall blooming bulbs.
Three Basic Types of Bulbs
Bulb flowers include true bulbs that are pear shaped, like tulips, corms and scales. Corms are bulb-like, but are more swollen and produce off sets, known as cormels . Crocuses are an example of corms. Scales are bulbs with layered scales, like lilies. Division is simply the process by which these different types of bulbs’ immature growth s , known a bulblets , are separated from the parent plant and replanted in the garden to produce more flowers.
Why Divide Bulbs
Bulbs are divided to provide free bulbs for multiplying flowers, but division also allows existing bulbs to grow stronger. This is because bulbs expend energy supporting bulblets , and when these immature growths are removed, the parent bulb has more energy to bloom, creating bigger, healthier flowers.
How to Divide Bulbs
To divide bulbs, the immature growths are carefully removed from the parent plant. Once the bulblets are removed, the gardener can replant them or store them for planting later. Gardeners can prevent small bulblets from blooming the first year by nipping off flowers and allowing the energy to go toward growing a larger bulb and not blooms. Larger bulbs create a bigger display the following year. Division and replanting techniques depends on the type of flower bulb.
Tulips are divided in late spring, once foliage has died back. Dig up the bulbs and pull the small bulblets from the parent bulb. Hybrid tulips are not generally suitable for division.
Lilies are divided in late summer after foliage has almost completely died back. Generally, lilies require digging and dividing every few years when flowers appear crowded. Lilies are scales, so peel away the outer scaly layers.
Daffodils are divided in late spring every few years when the gardener notices the number and size of blooms decreasing.
Crocuses are divided in spring after foliage has begun to die back. Crocuses are corms, which can be difficult to divide, so separate foliage clumps instead.
Gladiolus are lifted in early fall, once foliage has died back and stored until spring. Separate and plant gladiolus bulbs right before planting in spring.
Divide summer-flowering bulbs in spring and plant bulblets in the garden.
Divide spring-flowering bulbs after foliage yellows and dies back in summer.
Dig and store tender bulbs in fall, leaving them in a cool, dark place during winter.
Tender corms should be dug in fall and stored until replanting in spring.
Root and stem rot are two of the most common causes of bulb failure. Gardeners can avoid this by planting bulbs in a well-drained location and store bulbs in a moist, not soggy, environment. Gardeners can dust bulbs with a fungicide to decrease the risk of fungal disease.