How to plant and propagate flower bulbs

June 25, 2015

Most bulb plants flourish beautifully without special care. And they barely need watering, which makes them ideal for areas with less rainfall or gardeners who are tight on time.

How to plant and propagate flower bulbs

Planting tips

  • Put a stake in the ground at the same time as you plant tall-growing plants, such as gladiolus or dahlias, that will need support later on. If you wait until the root system is already developed before driving a stake in, you risk damaging the plant.
  • In damp regions, remove tulip bulbs after their leaves have wilted and store them until the fall in a bed of sand, peat moss, or saw dust, in a dark place.
  • Snip off the blooms of bulbs after they wilt in order to save them the energy needed to form seeds. Don't touch the leaves, though — the plant needs them to store nutrients for the winter.
  • Always plant bulbs and tubers in different places to avoid diseases caused by fungi or bacteria.

Propagating lilies through bulb scales

  1. Dig up the bulbs in the fall and gently pull off four to six of the fleshy outer scales. Then dust the wound of the parent plant with charcoal powder for protection and replant the bulbs.
  2. Place the scales to half their depth in a mixture of potting soil and sand. Keep them moist at room temperature by covering them with plastic wrap. Don't expose them to direct sunlight.
  3. When small bulbs with delicate roots form (within about eight weeks), plant them individually in little pots so that only the uppermost tips poke out of the soil. Store them in a dry and dark place at about 5°C (41°F).
  4. Carefully plant bulbs as soon as the first delicate leaves sprout in the spring — just choose a day when it's not too cold.

Propagating bulbs and tubers

  • The propagation of bulb plants is very easy. Many form small bulbs or sprout tubers by themselves. These simply have to be detached from the parent plant and stored in a cool and sheltered place over the winter.
  • Dig up the bearded iris rhizome every two to three years after it has finished blooming, divide it into several pieces, and trim the leaves. Dispose of the oldest part of the plant.
  • Divide dahlia tubers with a knife before planting them in the spring. Each division should have a budding sprout.
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