I want to move and replant many spring-flowering bulbs (daffodils, tulips, and alliums). It seems like a waste to throw them out because they are only 1 year old and looked great last spring. When is the best time to transplant? Any tips on digging the bulbs up without slicing through them?
Moving spring-flowering bulbs can be done anytime after the foliage has died down, following flowering in the spring. It is important to allow this to occur because the foliage is helping to rebuild the stored food reserves used during the flowering process.
Not all spring-flowering bulbs reflower dependably year after year. Many tulips, for example, do not have enough time to replenish themselves before the warmer weather moves in and dries the foliage. As a result, most tulips flower great the first year, not so great the second year, and often not at all the third.
Bulbs that flower earlier or are better able to withstand warmer temperatures are more likely to reflower year after year. Daffodils and alliums fall into this group.
If you move the bulbs when the foliage has dried, but before it detached from the bulb, you can more clearly see where the bulbs are located. Using a spading fork will make it less likely that you will slice the bulb, but there are no guarantees you will not stab an occasional bulb.