Bulbs are some of the most popular flowers for the home garden, and one of the most attractive things about bulbs is that they can be divided to create new plants to give to friends or to plant in other parts of the garden. In fact, most varieties of bulbs benefit from regular division, and if a previously well blooming bulb garden has grown sparse, it may mean that it is time to divide those bulbs.
It is important to divide bulbs properly, and the techniques for dividing bulbs properly will vary from species to species. There are five distinct types of bulbs: true bulbs, corms, tuberous roots, rhizomes and tubers and each type has its own division techniques. Let’s start by looking at how to divide true bulbs
True bulbs should be carefully separated from the smaller bulb growing at their base. When dividing lily bulbs, it is also important to remove the outer scales from the basal plate prior to dividing the bulb. After those scales have been removed, the ends of the bulb should be dipped in a rooting hormone and immediately planted.
Corms are not divided like true bulbs since corms renew their growth cycle each year by producing new corms, or small cormels which will grow on top of the original. Dividing corms consists of simply separating the new corms from the original ones.
Tubers increase their size and the number of growth points as they age. Unlike other kinds of bulbs, most tubers do not form increases which are easily distinguishable. Tubers should, therefore, be divided by cutting them into two or more sections. It is important that each section contain at least one growth point.
Rhizomes will produce their new growth through the growth points arrayed along the side of the rhizome. Rhizomes are best divided at their natural division points. As with tubers, it is important to make sure that each new division contains at least one growth point.
Tuberous roots will have several growth points located along their sides. Some types, such as daylilies, form distinct plants that can easily be pulled apart. Other tuberous roots are more difficult to separate, and the gardener will need to cut the clumps apart to enable each root to have a growth bud to start from.