Q&As/Bulbs and Tubers/When to Lift Bulbs

Question

Should you lift your bulbs every year or can you leave them in? 

Answer

In general bulbs can be left in the ground for a number of years before it impacts their flowering. You can take bulbs out and dry them over the season although there is no real advantage in doing this unless you want to move their position. If you would like your bulbs to naturalise (spread naturally on their own) just leave them in the ground and do not disturb them. However, with some varieties, particularly Irises and Lachenalias it is imperative to lift them every 2-3 years otherwise their flowering will reduce.

If your bulbs are growing in containers or smaller areas, it is best to lift, check and replant them every three to four years. Simply dig up the bulbs, check their condition and remove any that are diseased. Divide them if need be (some may have multiplied) and plant them out again in the ground or back into containers with fresh bulb mix.

When green foliage starts to appear through the soil, feed bulbs by applying a side dressing of bulb fertiliser to promote healthy, vigorous blooms. Once they have finished flowering, feed bulbs again to support them in bulking up their stores for next season. 

At the end of the season (once the flowers have finished), the foliage begins to brown and die down. Some people cut this foliage off too early and it is a major reason for reduced flower numbers next season. Be sure to let the leaves brown and die down naturally to protect the plant and ensure maximum nutrients have been stored for the next seasons flowering. 

Products to try: Daltons Premium Bulb mix, Daltons Premium Bulb Fertiliser

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