Can you dig up bulbs in the spring?

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Flowering bulbs can provide a spectacular display of colour in the early spring, before many other plants begin to grow. Unfortunately, most bulbs only bloom once, then gardeners are left with the necessity of replacing them if they want to have more colour in the garden.

Fortunately, the hardiness of bulbs makes removing them and planting them again the following year a good option.

When to dig

Most bulbs can be dug up and replanted, but they must be treated a certain way for them to be able to grow again. To successfully dig up your bulbs for replanting, you need to wait until they have finished flowering, but prevent them from going to seed. You can do this by clipping off the flower head just as the flower begins to wilt. Without the flower head, the plant will store energy back in the bulb and the leaves will begin to wilt as well. Once the leaves have begun wilting, the bulb can be carefully dug up and stored for replanting the following year. Each spring-flowering bulb blooms and wilts at a different time, so you will need to watch each variety carefully to determine when the best time is to dig them up.

Spread your bulbs

You can dig up and replant most spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses. In fact, if your bulbs have "naturalised" as many varieties of crocuses and daffodils do, or spread so there are too many in one area or the plants are growing too close together for successful growth and flowering, you should dig them up after spring flowering and move them in the autumn to locations where they will grow better. Bulbs that grow too close together will fail to flower and, once they have grown too thin to flower one year, they will continue to grow poorly and never flower.

Storage tips

Store your dug-up bulbs in a dark, well-ventilated area -- paper grocery bags work well for this -- until early autumn, when it is time to move them to cold storage in your fridge. Most bulbs require at least six weeks of "extra" winter before the weather turns cool on its own. Store bulbs in the salad or veg drawer of your fridge, but ensure they aren't too close to ripening fruit, which emit gases that can cause bulbs to rot.