Dividing Your Flower Bulbs

Flower bulbs multiple easily. This is one of the great things about plants; you can share a good variant with friends by providing them with a sample of your bulb. But because they multiply that easily too, bulbs take up more and more space as the seasons go along. The lack of space will cause the bulbs to stop flowering, which is exactly what you don\’t want. For this reason, you need to divide bulbs every few years.

Bulbs are divided in different ways depending on type. The second thing is to identify the bulbs that need to be divided from those that do not need to be divided. Observe the flower bulb clumps in your garden over spring; clumps of flower bulbs that are not flowering well or not flowering at all, are ready to the divided.

As mentioned before there are five different types of bulb flowers — true bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes and tuberous roots. The dividing techniques for each type of bulb are different. Below list the ways you divide the bulbs or you can also find out the information when you purchase your bulbs from the nursery.

Image credit: Henry Heatly/Flickr

True bulbs

There two types of true bulbs: tunicate bulbs (such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths (muscari), and alliums) and imbricate bulbs (such as lily).

Separate the original bulb from the smaller bulb which normally grow at its base. Carefully remove the outer scales from the basal plate, then dip the ends of the bulb in a rooting hormone. The bulb should then be planted immediately.

Image credit: David Monniaux/wikipedia.org


New rhizomes sprout from growth points that are located at their sides. They are divided by simply breaking the sections at the natural divisions. Make sure that when you break these sections, there is at least one growth point on it.

Examples of rhizomes include lily-of-the-valley

Image credit: fshm/Flickr


Tubers also have growth points on them that increase as they grow in size. But unlike rhizomes, tubers do not have distinct separation on them. To divide them, cut a large tuber into more than two sections with each having at least one growing point.

Examples of tubers include caladiums, oxalis and anemones.

Image credit: Naomi Ibuki/Flickr

Tuberous roots

Tuberous roots contain several growing points, and some varieties form separate and distinct plants which you can then pull apart.

Divide tuberous roots in fall or summer. This is when the plant is still in its growth stage. For other types of tuberous root plants that are more difficult to separate, cut the clumps into section with each having a growth point. These types of roots should be separated in early spring, before planting.

Examples of tuberous roots include dahlias and begonia.

Image credit: Retama/wikipedia.org


Corms, which are not true bulbs, have storage tissues that are derived from a swollen stem base. The feature that proves corms are not true bulbs is the non-existant storage rings when they are cut in half.

They multiply by producing new corm or small cormels that grows on top of the old corm. To divide corms, separate the new corms or cormels from the original corms.

Gladiolus, crocus, and autumn crocus are examples of corms.

Getting Started

  1. Identify the technique you will use to divide your bulb according to their type
  2. Observe which clumps of bulbs that require dividing in your garden. Those that are flowering slowly or not flowering at all are the ones that require dividing.
  3. Dig them up using a shovel. Gently insert the shovel into the ground a few inches outside of the clump of bulbs and leverage the clumps of bulbs out of the ground.
  4. Brush away the excess dirt on the clumps of bulbs, and then separate the bulbs from each other.
  5. Once you\’ve separated the bulbs, add some bloodmeal (as fertilizer) into the base of the hole. Bloodmeal also keeps the squirrels and chipmunks away from the newly re-planted bulbs.
  6. Put back half the number of bulbs you just dug out back into the hole. Make sure that you leave enough space around each flower bulb.
  7. You can either move the other bulbs you did not return to the ground to other parts of the garden or give them away to friends and family.

If you divide your bulbs in spring, mark the location of the clump with a marker through summer so that you know which bulb has been divided. Make sure there are foliage on the bulbs when you replant them. This is because the bulbs require the foliage to provide enough energy to survive the winter and flowering in spring.

Bulbs are attractive plants not only because they provide gardeners with a burst of color over the season, they can be easy to divide and shared with friends. There nothing lovelier than to share a gift of nature that just keeps growing.

More reading:

How to Divide Bulbs Properly:


How to Divide Bulbs: