Prepping the Bulbs
It might seem like the wrong time of year to be thinking about Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils but if you have had them growing in your flowerbeds for the past 2-3 years, this would be the time of year to dig them up and separate them.
You might have noticed this past spring that the flowers were smaller than previous years or there were no flowers at all which is a sign that the bulbs have become overcrowded and were not able to produce a flower.
Some bulbs such as tulips and daffodils reproduce by forming new bulbs called bulbils and as these continue to form and grow through the years. Every 2-4 years the bulbs should be dug up and divided.
The bulbs are dug up after they have naturally died back and gone dormant in mid summer. After they have finished blooming the finished flower is removed and the remaining stem and foliage is left to gather nutrition through photosynthesis so that it can form next years flower and the nutrients it needs to grow. The foliage will turn yellow and die back which is when it can be removed and it is at this point when the bulb can be dug up and divided.
Using a spade or garden fork, carefully dig around the bulb, far enough away to avoid harming the bulb. Gently shake the bulbs removing most of the surrounding soil and then allow the bulb to air dry for a few days. Toss out any rotten, diseased, or damaged bulbs. Separate the tiny bulbils from the large main bulb. The tiny bulbils can either be tossed or stored along with the main bulb in a cool dry space (out of the sun), for 4-5 weeks. One thing to consider when deciding whether to keep the bulbils is that they will not bloom for the first 2-3 years as they are too small to produce a flower. This is why when purchasing new bulbs we always recommend to buy large bulbs as these will contain large flowers. If you decide to keep the bulbils, plant them somewhere in the back of the yard/garden where they can grow and not be noticed, and then they can be dug up in 2-3 years when they have grown bigger and are able to produce a flower.
Bulbs are re-planted in early September. Plant bulbs in a sunny location in a well-drained soil. Sprinkle a handful of bonemeal in the hole and mix it with the soil before placing the bulbs in. Bulbs are planted to a depth that is two times the height of the bulb. Space tulips and daffodils 13-15 cm apart. After planting the bulbs cover them up and give them a thorough water. Continue to keep the area moist until the frost sets into the ground. Next spring you will be able to enjoy them once again!
- Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road