How To Divide Bulbs For Bigger Gardens

Lee Dobbins

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Flowering bulbs are a favorite of many gardeners due to their diverse array of color and the fact that they bloom for many seasons without replanting. One added bonus with bulbs is that they can be divided and transplanted to other parts of the garden.

Many bulb patches, if not tended to properly, become overcrowded and the health of the plants starts to deteriorate. In this case you need to prune out the patch to restore both the health and the beauty of the landscape.

It is generally easy to tell when a planting of bulbs needs to be divided. One sure sign is when a previously well blooming planting of bulbs has begun to provide only sparse blooms. Most times the culprit is overcrowding, and the solution is to divide those bulbs. Properly dividing the bulbs will reduce the overcrowding and allow the remaining bulbs to bloom for vibrantly.

There are 5 types of bulbs corms, tubers, true bulbs, rhizomes, and tuberous roots and each has a different method of division.

True bulbs
To divide a true bulb, you should begin by carefully separating the original bulb from the smaller bulb growing at its base. When dividing lily bulbs, you should be careful to first remove the outer scales from the basal plate. After the outer scales are removed, the ends of the bulb should be dipped in a rooting hormone, and the bulb should be planted immediately.

Corms renew growth each year by producing a new corm. Sometimes they will grow small corms (or cormels) at the top of the parent corm. Wen you divide corms, just seperate any new corms or cormels from the original plant.

As tubers mature, they increase both their size and the number of growing points. However, most tubers do not form distinct increases. Therefore, to divide tubers, a large tuber should be cut into two or more sections, being sure that each section contains at least one growing point.

Rhizomes produce new plants from growth areas on their sides. You can divide them by breaking each section off – be sure that each of the new divisions has at least one growth point on it.

Tuberous roots
A tuberous root will contain several growing points. Some, like daylilies, form separate and distinct plants, which can simply be pulled apart. This type of sectioning is generally done in fall or summer while the plant is still in its growth stage. Other tuberous root plants, such as dahlias, are more difficult to separate. In order to separate more difficult plants like dahlias, you will need to cut the clumps apart so that each root has a growth bud from which to start. With these types of plants, it is best to separate them in early spring, before planting.

Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden and Patio where you can find more articles on gardening, garden ponds, garden decor and much more.


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