I get asked all the time about moving flower bulbs so here are the general rules of thumb.
If The Bulb Is In A Pot
If the bulb is fully grown, in soil, in the pot, then it can be moved at any time. Take it out of the pot and plant it at the same depth as it was in the pot – in other words, the soil in the pot should be at ground level.
Do not do this if there is a danger of frost and your bulb has been greenhouse grown. It will be “burned” by the frost. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting outdoors.
While growing it in the pot, give it full sunshine, feed at least once a week with a houseplant fertilizer and water whenever your finger comes away dry if you touch the soil.
Moving Bulbs In Your Garden
If the bulb is in the garden and you have an insane desire to move it (maybe you’re moving and want to take a few hundred tulips along for the ride) then the rules are slightly different.
(By the way, if you’re selling your house, you should check on your legal sales agreement before moving flowers, sometimes you can’t. If selling it is always a good idea to have it written into the agreement that you can move plants.)
Can You Move A Bulb If It’s In Bloom?
This is not a good idea – sorry to say. The flower will start to fade with the shock. And it will be a very sorry sight – very quickly.
Moving Spring Blooming Bulbs
You can move spring-blooming flower bulbs immediately after they bloom if you do it:
- carefully and
- replant them as soon as possible at the same depth as they were in the original planting spot.
They won’t like it but if you replant at the same depth, they will likely survive. They may sulk for a year (not throw a flower the following spring) but will then recover for subsequent years.
Moving spring bulbs before they bloom is a tricky operation because the bulbs are actively growing buds at this time and they’re usually quicker off the mark than you are.
You can do it but expect to lose more bulbs along with the flowers.
I have moved just about every plant in my garden out of season at one time or other and if you do it carefully, without disturbing the roots too much you can try. Just understand that you may lose spring bulbs this way.
It’s a Waste of Time to Transplant Tulips
Let me inject a note of honesty here about moving tulips.
In general, it’s a waste of time to move a tulip This bulb generally is a short-blooming bulb – 2-3 years in most gardens – so moving it shocks it and you won’t get many flowers from them. Not worth the labor in my opinion.
And once a tulip stops blooming, it will not come back.
Moving Summer Flowering Bulbs
Moving flower bulbs like summer flowering lilies (or other summer flowering bulbs) follows the same guidelines. Dig them early enough in the spring. Again, they’re not pleased by this but they’ll survive and you’ll rarely lose a season’s bloom if you get them early.
If actively growing above the ground, it is best to wait until after they finish flowering and the leaves start to fade.
They can be easily moved in the fall when they are dormant.
Another Factor Not Many Folks Who Love Flower Bulbs Consider
The cost of bulbs is relatively low for the flowers they produce. In the course of moving, you have enough to do and worry about. And moving a few flower bulbs just wouldn’t be high on my list given the number of other things I’d need to do.
The cost to replace them with bulbs in your new garden is low.
And with a new garden, you get to experiment with new bulbs and flower opportunities.