Flower Bulb Division: When and How to Divide Plant Bulbs

Flower Bulb Division is a common gardening work. we are familiar with it. And yes, dividing the bulb can really help us in multiplying a flowering plant into many of the same kind. The main task of division depends on When and How to Divide Plant Bulbs. If you know the right time, and the right procedure to divide the flower plant bulb then it’s probably the best gardening act to do for you.

Is it easy to divide bulbs of any plant? It may or may not be easy to divide bulbs. Most importantly, bulb division depends mainly on the needs of the plant and its grower. If the plant favors the separation and division of bulbs then you might not worry about it. If you have to divide the flower bulbs then no need to think as there is no other option to take. Otherwise, you have to be ready to act according to the situation you face during bulb division.

divide plant bulbs
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash. Flower Bulb Division: When and How to Divide Plant Bulbs

Check out my previous post: Can You Grow Tulips From Seed?

Why Do We divide Flower Bulbs?

Either to grow more or to ease out the cluster, we divide the flower bulbs. The separation and division of flower bulbs are a matter of necessity. Otherwise, It is not very essential to divide plant bulbs.

Flower Bulbs are easy to grow and care for. They are almost maintenance-free and don’t require much attention after planting.

Blubs grow and multiply year after year until you dig it out. Each year the bulb grows in size and develops new baby bulbs around itself. If you plant the bulb in a container then within a year or two the container will be full of bulbs.

This can take few more years to happen in the garden. Eventually, it will happen in every case. You have to separate and divide the flower bulbs once there is no room for a new bulb.

You can also divide flower bulbs to regrow them in new locations. It is a more common reason for dividing flower bulbs.

Also read: When to Plant Bulbs in Greenhouse?

Is it necessary to Divide Plant Bulbs?

No, It is not necessary, There is no need to divide Plant Bulbs unless it is required. If you don’t want to regrow a new plant then a shortage of space will force you to divide bulbs. In this condition, no other option left than dividing bulbs.

The necessity to divide Plant Bulb actually depends on the type of the plant and the bulb it grows. Some bulbs grow faster than others. While some develop lots of baby bulbs which is not common with others.

The growth pattern and basic requirements of every plant bulb are different. So the necessity to divide plant bulbs also varies a lot with circumstances other than natural factors.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to divide bulbs only to maintain the bloom size and quality. Usually, flower plants will continue blooming even with cluster rootballs. It will bloom but the bloom quality will reduce greatly. This does not matter a lot for home gardeners but for commercial flower growers, it is a matter of financial loss. They can’t afford to grow plants that bear inferior flowers with optimum care and resources.

Usually, they separate and divide bulbs to grow each mature bulb as a separate plant with all possible resources. Horticulturist or commercial growers can’t let the bulbs cluster when they know they can earn more just by dividing, separating, and regrowing all of them.

How Much Division is good for Flower Bulbs?

The frequency of bulb division is also very important to maintain. You can’t divide the same plant bulb in each subsequent season unless it grows at that pace. A healthy approach is to always remove major big-size bulbs from the cluster. Leave the smaller ones to grow big and bloom. These big bulbs can accompany few baby bulbs. There is no need to remove all.

Meanwhile, replant the mature big bulbs in a separate location to get the best blooms of the season. The big mature bulbs will bloom faster and bigger than others. They can grow and divide more accurately in new space.

Commercial Blub growers suggest dividing only mature bulbs along with their baby bulbs. In this way, the main parent bulb will be released from compression and get enough room to grow more. Otherwise, If you don’t divide properly then the old mature bulbs at the center will start rotting due to a lack of resources and space.

Flower bulbs should be divided only once every year after the season ends. Once you are done with division let the bulbs settle and regrow with an abundance of nutrition. Lack of Nutrition and moisture at this stage can damage the bubs.

Avoid unnecessary bulb division as it can introduce fungal and bacterial infections to the plant. Sanitization is also very important during flower bulb division to avoid infestation.

Also read: Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Christmas Tree

When to Divide Plant Bulbs?

The exact time for dividing bulbs differs with their growing season. Some bulbs grow and bloom in spring while others may bloom in fall. So you can’t make a general decision for every flower plant bulb.

Instead, You should wait until the plant dies after the blooming ends. Once the blooming ends and the foliage dry off, prepare to dig some of the bulbs out of the cluster. Start with the edges as dividing bulbs from the center of the cluster is quite difficult. You have to dig out the whole cluster of the bulbs to separate the big central bulbs.

You can divide Spring bulbs like Daffodils and Tulips at the end of summer. There you can collect and regrow them in the fall before the first frost. Simply place those bulbs in the new area and forget about them for the whole winter. Most spring bulbs will develop roots and grow during the winter season.

Summer flower bulbs can either be separated and divided during the winter or early spring season. Otherwise, divide fall bulbs during the spring season.

In every situation, simply wait for the plant to die off on its own before digging out the bulbs. Wait until all of the foliage turns brown and dies. In fact, wait a couple more weeks to let the bulb become dormant in the surrounding environment.

Baby flower bulbs can die easily during growth season if exposed to direct sun. During the growth season, bulbs spend all their resources on growth and blooming. They also react actively to change in the environment. Therefore, never divide the flower bulbs in the growing season.

Either do it before the season or wait until the plants die to the ground.

How to Divide plant Bulbs?

Sometimes it is easy sometimes not. You can divide plant bulbs easily if they are in a dormant stage. They will not respond to the changes in their surrounding. The chance of early growth or bolting is minimal during the dormant season.

Otherwise, dividing any flower plant bulb can become a tedious job especially if it’s still blooming. The disturbance can stop the blooming or it can force the bulbs to bloom prematurely. Neither of these conditions is beneficial for the gardener.

You should learn and understand the growth pattern and timing of the flowering plant before dividing the bulbs. Sometimes there would be no need to do the division especially if the bulb is growing in the open garden. This mostly happens with daffodils. They can easily grow and continue blooming in compact garden beds. While flower-like Tulips and Gladuolous may need division every couple of years.

Therefore make sure you know when your flower plants require a bulb division. D this only when it requires the most.

Easy Steps to Divide Plant Bulbs 

  • Wait for the blooms and foliage to die before bulb division.
  • Once the plant dies, make a circumference at least 3 to 5 inches away from the outermost bulb. This is essential to avoid any cut damage to the bulbs. Don’t worry if a few of them breaks. It is obvious you can’t protect everyone, just chill out and continue.
  • Dig out the bulb cluster carefully. You can use a garden spade or small rake to tug out the bulbs from the soil. Don’t worry if some roots break they will grow again in the next season.
  • Let the bulb cluster dry in a shade with partial sunlight reach. the soil attached to the bulb cluster will dry in a couple of days.
  • Gently brush off the dry soil or wash it away with a jet spray. Dry out the bulbs if you have cleaned them with water to avoid rotting. Otherwise, it can attract fungal infections and die.
  • Group the Clean flower bulbs according to their size and sort them for quality. Big bulbs are mature and can bloom faster than others.
  • You should remove any dead, dry, squishy, or soggy bulb out of the cluster. These bulbs can spread diseases to the entire bulb cluster.
  • Finally, sprinkle some fungicide over the bulbs and store them for next season. You can regrow them if it’s the right time for growing this particular flower plant.

Final Words

Growing flowers from bulbs is easier than growing them from seeds. At least you don’t have to wait for the seedling to mature. Bulbs don’t require much care as seedlings. Although they need some division for proper spacing from time to time. Dividing bulbs can be easy especially if you know the right way. Just wait for the plant and foliage to die and then dig out the extra bulbs. Separate small or dead damaged bulbs from healthy ones and regrow them for better results. Bulb division is essential to maintain the quality of the blooms.


Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not just a hobby, it's a way of living life with nature. My Ancestors were Commercial farmers: So I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here only to share my gardening experiences. It's always Refreshing.

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