can you take it with you? flower edition
May 14, 2023 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I’m moving, and I’d like to take some tulips from my current house to my new house. How?

Our current house has a few tulips along one of the fences, and my wife really likes them. But we were on vacation when they bloomed this year, and didn’t get to see them until squirrels had chewed them to death. We’ve also bought a house and will be moving out of this one shortly, and since the tulips are behind a fence, she’ll never see them bloom again.

I suppose I could just buy some new tulip seeds or bulbs and plant them at the new house, but I feel like it would be a cool symbolic thing to take the ones that she’s loved for the past several years and bring them with us. I’m vaguely aware that it’s possible to transplant tulips, but not particularly clear on details. I found some stuff via google saying to wait until the flowers die to move them. Thanks to the squirrels, ours no longer have flowers. Is that ok? If not, will I be able to move them by the end of the month? That’s when we have to be out of here. Is there another way to do this that I’m not aware of?
posted by kevinbelt to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dig up the bulbs, store them in paper sacks to keep them dry and then plant them in your new place in September. Tulip season is pretty much over so it's safe to dig them up now.
posted by essexjan at 8:58 AM on May 14, 2023 [5 favorites]

Tulips grow from bulbs. Once the foliage has died back (I see squirrels got yours) you can dig up the bulbs (early June is usually when you'd do this). Do it carefully so you don't damage the bulbs, knock off the loose dirt, and store them in net bags (like onions come in) or paper bags in a cool, dry place.

Then in November or so you can replant them at your new home and watch them come up next spring. This is a lovely idea!
posted by XtineHutch at 8:59 AM on May 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

If you have photos of the tulips in flower in addition to following the above advice, you can probably figure out - or have someone help you - which tulip cultivar they are and get more. Planting bulbs is fairly simple and since you plant them in the fall they are like a lovely gift you give to your future self.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:13 AM on May 14, 2023 [2 favorites]

This guide to digging up tulips looks really good. Make sure the tulips have stored enough energy before you unearth them.

They may not bloom next year if you have to dig them up too early.

I would encourage you to not only look for the species of your tulips, but also to find a new variety of tulip that will go with your new house.

Also: I strongly encourage you to test your soil and check the sun/growing conditions/deer population tendencies (ask your neighbors) in your new place.
posted by amtho at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is there anything special I should do with the bags of bulbs? Like, can I just throw them in a corner in the basement until fall? Should they be hung up? Inside or outside? Doi need to water them at all?
posted by kevinbelt at 12:01 PM on May 14, 2023

Keep them like you'd keep onions. Same growth habit.
posted by flabdablet at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2023

Relevant instructional video (she seems to be working during relatively cool weather, though, not summer). It looks like storing them in some dry soil in a cool place -- MUST be cool -- will work well. I've stored bulbs in the refrigerator on purpose to encourage them to bloom.

I'm not sure whether just transferring them to a new spot in the ground will work for you, but that's something to look up. However, refrigerating and/or cool/dry storage might be best if you need time to prep the ground.

That said, if you don't have room in your refrigerator, and could only store them somewhere outside where it's warm and/or damp, maybe plan a bit more carefully.
posted by amtho at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2023

I've you're moving to a place with the same climate as the old place just plant them in a spot with the same exposure, at the same depth as before.

Tulips are dug and stored when summers get too hot and/or winters aren't cold enough. If they were in the ground all year before and conditions will be the same just plant them again, possibly in a couple different spots just to hedge your bets in case the conditions aren't exactly the same.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2023

You can transplant bulbs 'in the green' and in fact that's the easiest way to do it because that's when you can find them.

Go ahead and grab them and replant them. You don't need to store them until the fall--they won't get anything out of that except vulnerability and desiccation. If you can get them back into soil in the new place, it will help them recharge, but unless they get eaten by voles, they'll be fine (and if you're worried about that, plant them with a fistful of gravel; nobody wants a mouthful of rock when they go to bite an apple.)

If you want to be fancy, a small handful of bone meal when you plant is also a good investment.

I heard Brent from Brent and Becky's bulbs saying that one way to help tulips perennialize better is to dig them good and deep. I swear he said like a foot down, but maybe that's my memory. I don't grow tulips because deer, but I do grow a ton of daffodils and I am *brutal* to them in terms of moving them around, digging them up, etc.

Basically, you want them to store up as much as they can in terms of carbohydrates, so mark them with chopsticks in the ground or whatever so you can find them, but then just dig them out at the last minute and throw them in shopping bags and move them and plant them.

Don't cut off the leaves unless they're done. They'll look cruddy but they can still get some nutrition out of the deal.

Bulbs are tough old bastards.

It's very sweet that you want to do this for your wife and personally I'd be delighted.

Source: hey, I'm a Master Gardener. (Did an Ask about whether or not to go for it a hundred years ago. Finally did it.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:57 PM on May 14, 2023 [14 favorites]

I dig up daffodils too because they clump badly, so you have to dig them up and divide them. No special treatments required unless you can't deal with a down year. Just dig them up bag them, and transplant them before the fall. In my experience, even if you damage them, cut them in half (accidentally) whatever, they might miss the next year but the year after that, they will be fine.

I also dig them and transplant right after the flower dies, because after that I don't think they are a great looking plant and the stalks last way too long. I don't cut off the green, just dig them up and move them to where I want them to be.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:33 AM on May 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Ghostwriter for my diary?   |   Noob seeks guidance on embedding Calendly link in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.