When to divide bulbs…
- A decrease in the size and number of blooms
- A lack of growth in the center of the mass
- Thin and unhealthy greenery around the base of the plant
How to divide bulbs…
This category includes flowers such as dahlias that possess bulbous roots shaped somewhat like a sweet potato. When dividing these root system you need to be certain that each division has some original root and a point of growth, such as a bud.
The spreading roots include the likes of cornflowers and asters. They posses thin roots that are intertwined and tangled. These are a good example of bulbs that are generally easily divided simply by using your hands.
Rhizomes grow at the soil line or just above it; a good example would be irises. When dividing your rhizome type bulbs retain one set of leaves on a few inches of the rhizome itself. It is important to note for these plants that when replanting the rhizome needs to be situated just above the surface of the earth.
Day lilies and hostas are two commonly found plants that have a clumping root system. These are also the types who, dependant on size, may require cutting or prying to get them apart. Divide the plant into sections that have at minimum on point of growth, but feel free to leave more than one if you would like a larger plant from the start.
You know how to divide bulbs, now what?
Bulbs can be stored in an area that is cool and dry, and replanted in the early spring. They can also be replanted on the same date they are divided. The choice is yours. Many gardeners choose to winter the bulbs indoors in order to stave off hungry rabbits and other scavenging creatures.
If you are planning to replant your bulbs as soon as they are divided, you will want to accomplish this at least 6 weeks before the ground is expected to freeze. This will give your newly planted clumps time to become strong so that they are not killed by the impending cold weather.
- Choose a cooler overcast day to divide and replant bulbs, preferably when it is expected to rain for the next few days.
- If you find yourself with an excess of bulbs, talk to other gardeners you know who may be interested in organizing a swap. This is a great way to save some money and acquire new specimens at the same time.