Divide and move spring bulbs

Pop up a cheerful bunch of snowdrops (Galanthus species), share them around your garden and gift some to friends.

Pop up a cheerful bunch of snowdrops (Galanthus species), share them around your garden and gift some to friends.

When the earliest spring bulbs bloom it is easiest to see where more of the same are needed. Blank spaces that will be filled by later-rising perennials or hard-cut shrubs are perfect homes for the early bulbs including snowdrops (Galanthus species), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), netted iris (I. reticulata), or snow crocus (C. minimus). Don't wait, because before you know it the spring bulbs have gone dormant and space has filled. Divide and move those bulbs now.

We learned this lesson from a woman whose trillium display we admired. Leaning on her picket fence one day to tell her what joy we took in seeing her drifts of white trillium, we asked, "So how many trillium did you start with?"

"Five!" She laughed, "I dig and divide them, at least some of them, every year."

"How wonderful! When do you divide them and how many years has it taken to create all this from five plants?"

"I dig them whenever I have time, starting from as soon as they poke through. I split each clump 3 or 4 ways. I've been at it about 15 years."

Watch Janet split the bulbs and pot them as gifts.

Right now it is easy to pop up a clump of snowdrops and to see where in the garden they are needed. Not so in a few weeks when the neighboring dwarf butterfly bush, peony, mums and coreopsis arise and stretch.

Right now it is easy to pop up a clump of snowdrops and to see where in the garden they are needed. Not so in a few weeks when the neighboring dwarf butterfly bush, peony, mums and coreopsis arise and stretch.

Pull firmly on several bulbs to split them away.

Pull firmly on several bulbs to split them away.

Notice how some of the bulbs are being squeezed upward by the growth of their daughter bulbs. They can use a new home. Set them deeper when you drop them into their new spots. Most bulbs can be set deeper when transplanted. Deeply planted bulbs are better able to stand straight as they bloom that year. In the long run they tend to develop into larger bulbs, spawn fewer daughter bulbs and require less frequent division.

Notice how some of the bulbs are being squeezed upward by the growth of their daughter bulbs. They can use a new home. Set them deeper when you drop them into their new spots. Most bulbs can be set deeper when transplanted. Deeply planted bulbs are better able to stand straight as they bloom that year. In the long run they tend to develop into larger bulbs, spawn fewer daughter bulbs and require less frequent division.

We took the clump of bulbs and our supplies indoors so we could work in the warm kitchen, where our grandkids potted snowdrops for their teachers. The kids' snow sled was a handy tray and work surface.

We took the clump of bulbs and our supplies indoors so we could work in the warm kitchen, where our grandkids potted snowdrops for their teachers. The kids' snow sled was a handy tray and work surface.

Blooming-size bulbs make the best gifts. Smaller bulbs will reach blooming size more quickly if split away from the clump and planted where each can grow without close competition from its sisters.

Blooming-size bulbs make the best gifts. Smaller bulbs will reach blooming size more quickly if split away from the clump and planted where each can grow without close competition from its sisters.

Other spring bulbs are movable. If you want more netted iris dig and split this one now.

Other spring bulbs are movable. If you want more netted iris dig and split this one now.