when and how to separate tulip bulbs ?

junkmanme(z5 N. NM, USA)April 13, 2013

My tulips are getting crowded.
I would like to separate them and put them in storage in my Garden Shed this year....AFTER they bloom.
I don't know HOW or WHEN to do this. correctly.
Any Suggestions ?

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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Like most bulbs, divide after foliage turns yellow.

I've read it's ok to dig when 2/3s of the foliage has yellowed.
A garden 'fork' has less tendency to slice bulbs than a shovel.
I've had bad luck with dry storage of tulip splits.
Might be our climate (warm and dry).

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:58PM
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junkmanme(z5 N. NM, USA)

THANKS for responding !!!
( I have a "Garden-Fork" AND a "pitch-fork" ! )

We'll SEE IF there are OTHER RESPONSES.....

It's just "GUESS-WORK" for me....BUT, YOUR ADVICE fits what I was thinking.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Do you remember which variety you are growing? I'd love to perennial use some tulips in zone 5.

If you mark their location you could wait until fall to divide since they are in a good spot. As I understand it, summer rotting is one of the culprits for early tulip demise but doesn't sound as if you have that problem.

If your soil has a lot of clay, the pitch fork (thinner tined) could break.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 2:38PM
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In zone 5 you'll have no problem storing the dug-up bulbs in paper bags until re-planting in late fall. Most tulips love zone 5.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Thanks for this. I notice my tulips in front have been dividing nicely, are thick and lush this spring, just starting to bloom. So I will need to thin them.

I've been feeding them with Bloom Booster in spring and fall but didn't get around to it last fall.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 7:45PM
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My grandmother used to dig up her tulips every year after blooming. She only had a little garden and liked to use every inch. She would plant them again in the fall.
Tulips really don't like to be wet over the summer and this is often the best way to deal with them. I am too lazy and leave them in unless they need dividing. I am sure I have ruined some by watering my flower beds over the summer when it is dry.
Just wait until the foliage turns yellow, dig them up, brush the dirt off and let them dry in the shade or garage. Then store them in a cool dark place until you are ready to plant again.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:24PM
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