Moving Flower Bulbs: When To Do It and When It’s Best Not To

You’ll want to understand these general rules of thumb for moving flower bulbs successfully

Doug Green
Nov 5 · 4 min read

I get asked all the time about moving flower bulbs so here’s the general rules of thumb.

If The Bulb Is In A Pot

If the bulb is fully grown, in soil, in the pot, then it can be moved at any time. Take it out of the pot and plant it at the same depth as it was in the pot — in other words, the soil in the pot should be at ground level.

Do not do this if there is a danger of frost and your bulb has been greenhouse grown. It will be “burned” by the frost. Wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting outdoors.

While growing it in the pot, give it full sunshine, feed at least once a week with a houseplant fertilizer and water whenever your finger comes away dry if you touch the soil.

Moving Bulbs In Your Garden

If the bulb is in the garden and you have an insane desire to move it (maybe you’’re moving and want to take a few hundred tulips along for the ride) then the rules are slightly different.

(By the way, if you’re selling your house, you should check on your legal sales agreement before moving flowers, sometimes you can’t. If selling it is always a good idea to have it written into the agreement that you can move plants.)

Moving Spring Blooming Bulbs

You can move spring-blooming flower bulbs immediately after they bloom if you do it:

  1. carefully and

They won’t like it - but if you replant at the same depth, they will likely survive. They may sulk for a year (not throw a flower the following spring) but will then recover for subsequent years.

Moving spring bulbs before they bloom is a tricky operation because the bulbs are actively growing buds at this time and they’re usually quicker off the mark than you are.

You can do it but expect to lose more bulbs along with the flowers.

I have moved just about every plant in my garden out of season at one time or other and if you do it carefully, without disturbing the roots too much you can try. Just understand that you may lose spring bulbs this way.

And having said that — ignore that advice if it’s a tulip. See below.

It’s a Waste of Time to Transplant Tulips

Let me inject a note of honesty here about moving tulips.

In general, it’s a waste of time to move a tulip This bulb generally is a short-blooming bulb — 2–3 years in most gardens — so moving it shocks it and you won’t get flowers from them after a move.

And yes, when it stops blooming in your garden, it won’t come back and bloom any more either. Sorry…

Moving Summer Flowering Bulbs

Moving flower bulbs like summer flowering lilies (or other summer flowering bulbs) follows the same guidelines. Dig them early enough in the spring. Again, they’’re not pleased by this but they’ll survive and you’ll rarely lose a season’s bloom if you get them early.

If actively growing above the ground, it is best to wait until after they finish flowering and the leaves start to fade.

They can be easily moved in the fall when they are dormant.

My Honest Two Cents

Bulbs are truly inexpensive compared to the cost of moving houses. My .02 is that you’ll be less stressed and happier if you start fresh with new plants in a new house.

You really won’t save money by moving a few bulbs (heck they cost a few bucks for 25 in the fall ( and all you’ll do is raise your stress level when you try to move a flower bulb.


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Doug Greens Garden

A practical organic gardening resource helping you have a better garden

Doug Green

Written by

Former nurseryman, now writer and curious about what’s over the next hill and how to get there in either my Triumph Spitfire or sailboat.

Doug Greens Garden

A practical organic gardening resource helping you have a better garden

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