How to Dig Up Blooming Tulips

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Tulips are spring blooming plants that grow from underground root structures called bulbs. Bulbs are typically transplanted in the garden in the fall after the foliage dies back, rather than in the middle of the plants’ blooming cycle. If you dig up your blooming tulips, do so carefully and only if you have to; otherwise wait. After digging them up, replant them immediately and tend to them carefully, providing them with supplemental waterings to help them become re-established in their new location.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Trowel
    1. Water your tulip bed with 1 inch of water the day before you plant to dig them up. This will get your tulips well hydrated and make the soil bed a bit easier to dig into.
    2. Estimate how far to dig down. In general, tulips are planted about 6 to 8 inches deep, but in sandy soil, they are sometimes planted a couple inches deeper.
    3. Dig around an easily accessible tulip plant that is least attractive. Dig down with a hand trowel to the depth plus 2 inches you think your tulips are planted. Cut under and gently lift the plant and the bulb out of the soil. See how far down the bulb actually was planted and use this as a guide for the rest of your plants.
    4. Work around your plants with a trowel to allow more control than you would with a full-size shovel. Carefully dig down and around the tulip plants, starting with the ones near the outside of the garden, working your way to the middle. Gingerly pull up on the plants near the base to lift them out of the soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep the green foliage in tact for as long as possible, even if your flowers fade and the foliage wilts after transplanting. You want the foliage to keep absorbing sunlight to make energy, which is stored in the bulbs for next year’s plants.

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