Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do you need to transplant established lily bulbs this spring?

[This question came up while we were at the Great Falls Home & Garden Show in Montana and we thought there must be others with a similar question.  Sorry we don't have photos for graphic instructions, but our lilies are not even poking up out of the soil because of the colder than normal weather in Western Washington State this spring.  Only the miniature Daffodil 'Tête-à-Tête' and Forsythia are blooming now.]

If you must move lily bulbs, Fall is the best time because they are completely dormant, but if circumstances require an emergency relocation from one spot to another it is still possible even when the lilies are up and growing.  Step number one is to dig the "receiving" hole first, that way you will never have plants "out of the ground" for too long, plus you are less likely to overestimate your physical capabilities or time.

Carefully, very carefully… dig around each sprout or stem, starting about 5 inches away and dig one shovel depth. Gently pull away soil with your fingers or a trowel towards the stem or sprout until you expose the side of the lily bulb, then dig all around, going deep enough to lift the entire clump out with the bulb in the middle.  You need to be careful to not break any underground sprouts from the bulb when you move them this time of the year.  Your job is more difficult with stems showing above ground, but it it still do-able.  Try to leave as much soil clinging to the bulbs as possible, both above the bulb around the stem roots and below the bulb where the basal plate roots that anchor the lily are located.  Do not try to "divide" a clump of lilies at this time because the stems and roots will be intertwined and you risk much damage.  If the entire clump needs to be moved out of the way of construction; try to set the entire root ball of bulbs and soil onto a tarp and gently move to its new location.

Do not leave lily bulbs out of the soil more than a day, transplant immediately. Adjust the new hole to be slightly larger and deeper than the mass of soil around the transplanted lily (or clump).  Add water to make "mud" in the bottom of the planting hole, allowing any standing water to drain, then slide the entire root ball into the space, back filling the edges and firming loose soil with your hands.  Do not water again until at least a week later or when the soil is dry two inches below the surface. If you over water at this time, the lower leaves will begin to yellow and drop off - a classic sign of over watering.  Since you have not “lost” any roots during the move, your lily bulbs will not even know they are in a new location.  Remember that if you break sprouts or stems, you've lost your bloom for this summer, however chances are good that your bulbs will not die, but simply take a year or two to recover.

Click here for more information on transplanting bulbs during summer, written last year...

No comments:

Post a Comment