Can I gently dig up tulips just as they start to come up in the Spring and transplant to another site in my garden. I have a mixture of colours and I want to put the same colours together, but now it is September and I cannot remember where these are. Is there anything special I should be concerned about eg. not blooming in the new spot? Thanks


Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Digging up tulips in the early spring is definitely not ideal but it is possible. The most important thing is to avoid damaging the roots, especially the roots of the plant being dug up, but also the roots of the plants close to where you will be replanting. You will need to remove a reasonable size block of soil around the bulbs, big enough not to break any roots, and plant it immediately in a hole that is large enough to accommodate it, the idea being that there will be no disruption at all to the plant being dug out. Ideally the transplant will bloom normally and you could wait and see if this happens, but it might be best to remove flower stalks so that the plant will focus on establishing its roots in its new home, so you would forfeit blooms for the season. The tulips that have been moved likely won’t be happy, but they will probably survive if they are not already marginal.

Lifting and moving tulips just before they bloom may not be worth the effort when you consider that the majority of tulips are hybrids, which are bred for a beautiful display of blooms but not for longevity in the garden. Many are less showy after a year or two of growth, and as a result many people treat these hybrids as annuals and plant new bulbs every year. Species tulips, which are smaller and have unique flowers and foliage, may last for many years, and can naturalize in the garden over time. They are less common than the typical hybrid tulips.

Here is a link that might be helpful if you decide to go ahead with transplanting your tulips in the spring :

Transplanting at the Wrong Time of the Year

Best wishes for many years of beautiful spring displays in your garden !