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Moving tulips can be a delicate operation and really should not be undertaken until the fall after their leaves have lost all color and died back. The location of the bulbs in your garden can be marked with a plant marker in the ground so you can find them again later. But sometimes bulbs need to be moved in the spring.
If you are lifting bulbs that still have green leaves attached, gently remove as much soil as possible without removing the skin, or dried layer, surrounding each bulb. The best thing to do at this point is to heel the bulbs into a trench in an out of the way location of your garden. Lay the bulbs in and cover them with soil. Once there, the leaves can finish dying back naturally providing the last bits of nourishment needed for next year’s bloom. Once the leaves have completely dried, lift the bulbs from the trench, clean and dry them. If you do not have the space to trench the bulbs, put them in a shady portion of the garden in brown grocery bags and keep the bags well moistened until the leaves have completed their life cycle. Then, store the bulbs in a cool, dry place for planting in their chosen location in the fall. Keeping them in the refrigerator is a good idea if you have the space.
The Sherwood Gardens tulip dig is this Saturday, May 26 from 7:00 am to 11:00 am. Bring a shovel and bags or buckets to carry home your tulips. Here is the Spring 2012 Tulip Guide to the dig. The guide provides a map to the beds and photos of the tulips available for digging. Although fancy hybrid tulips do not tolerate being moved as well as Triumphs or Darwins, there are still a few years of bloom left in a transplanted bulb. I have dug my share from Sherwood Gardens over the years for my own garden.
Sherwood Gardens is moving into its annuals phase and the time to empty the beds of their bulbs is now. So if you want these bulbs at the bargain price of 30¢ (these bulbs generally sell for a $1 or more each), grab your shovel and a bucket and go on Saturday morning.
If you miss the dig, you can still find some of the same tulips at Breck’s. Breck’s is selling Angelique at 10 bulbs for $15.00 and Fringed Black Parrot bulbs 8 for $14.96, both of which are part of this year’s dig. Breck’s is currently running a sale: $25 off a purchase of $50 or more. If you do the math, you can get 40 bulbs at 87¢ a bulb, plus shipping. Not quite as good as digging them yourself.