By Susie Cosack, Master Gardener In-Training, SCMG
If you are lucky and have bought good tulip varieties, they can bloom wonderfully for up to 20 years. If your bulbs have ‘shown’ well for a couple of years or more then they are likely to continue to do so. If after bloom care such as deadheading old flowers and leaving leaves to dry has been done, then having successful blooms the following spring is high.
But ….If you had smaller or fewer flowers, if you want to change the colour scheme of your garden, or if you want to increase the number of tulip blooms rapidly – dig them, separate them, and replant.
Many tulip varieties will more then double in a good growing season. To dig up the bulbs insert a spade or garden fork 4 inches from where the bulbs are located and go down a good 6-8 inches into the ground. Once you find the bulbs lift them right out of the ground.
Check the bulbs. They should be firm, plump, dry but not shrivelled, and definitely not soft, squishy or rotten.
When replanting, dig at least 6-8 inches deep in compost amended soil. A recommend amount of low -nitrogen or tulip bulb fertilizer can also be added. Cover the bulbs with soil. You will now have more tulips for next spring !
Tulip bulbs should be planted 4-6 weeks before a heavy frost. In Simcoe County the time to plant/replant tulip bulbs is now, in October.
References: Organic Gardening, Monica Brandies, 1982, Sanford T. Beldon, New York pg.74,75