Tulips grow from a bulb root structure. The bulb goes dormant after storing up enough nutrients for the following spring’s growth cycle, typically within six weeks of the end of the flowering period. The tulips can be dug up and transferred to a new bed after the foliage dies back, but the preferred time is late summer before the bulbs begin producing new roots in the fall. The bulbs quickly re-establish in their new bed when moved during August or early September and are less prone to damage than those moved in early summer.
Things You’ll Need
- Plant markers
Place a plant marker next to each tulip plant when the foliage begins dying down in early summer. The marker will indicate the location of the bulbs when you dig in late summer. Cut back the foliage after it dies back and after marking the bulb locations.
- Dig the new bed, turning the soil to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. Incorporate a 2-inch layer of compost into the new bed. Choose full-sun locations that provide good drainage.
- Loosen the soil around the marked bulbs with a trowel, but dig carefully so as not to pierce the bulbs. Lift the tulip bulbs out of the loosened soil.
- Shake the excess soil from the bulbs. Inspect them for signs of damage, such as cuts or soft, rotten spots. Dispose of damaged bulbs.
- Twist apart attached bulbs. Tulips reproduce by growing new bulbs on old ones. New bulbs grow into a new tulip plant after they are detached from old bulbs.
- Plant the bulbs so the wide bottom sits approximately 6 inches beneath the soil surface. Space the bulbs 6 to 8 inches apart in all directions. Moisten the bed thoroughly with water after moving the bulbs.
Tips & Warnings
Tulips benefit from digging and transferring to a new location if the plants aren’t flowering well. Old beds that receive too little sunlight or become overcrowded inhibit flowering.