Dividing bulb plants is an easy way to propagate your favourite flowers, share them with your friends or just plant them elsewhere in your garden. In addition, many bulb flowers become overgrown, and reducing the growth through dividing bulbs is the easiest way to get things back to normal. It is generally easy to tell when a planting of bulbs needs to be divided. One sure sign is when a previously well blooming planting of bulbs has begun to provide only sparse blooms. The simplest solution to overcrowding is to divide those bulbs. Dividing the bulbs properly will allow the remaining bulbs to bloom vibrantly.
There are actually five different types of bulb flowers – true bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes and tuberous roots. The techniques for dividing each type of bulb vary, so it is important to know which type you are working with.
True bulbs almost look like common onions. The different layers are modified leafs. To divide a true bulb, you should begin by separating the original bulb from the smaller bulb which usually is growing at its base. When dividing lily bulbs, you should be careful to first remove the outer scales from the basal plate. After the outer scales are removed, the ends of the bulb should be dipped in a rooting hormone, and the bulb should be planted immediately.
If true bulbs could be compared to onions, corms can be compared to round potatoes. They are internally structured with solid tissues, not in leaf like layers. They renew their growth each season through the production of a new corm, and sometimes also small cormels growing on top of the original corm. To divide corms, the gardener should simply separate the healthy new corms, as well as any little cormels, from the original one.
Stem Tubers look like a mix of a little garlic onion with a berry. They are often located near the soil surface and serve as a short-living storage and regenerative organ. The tubers decay while the flowers are growing and will be produced again in fall. As tubers mature, they increase both their size and the number of growing points. You can divide stem tubers by cutting them into two or more sections. Just make sure that each section contains at least one growing point.
Imagine a long but thick sweet potato. That is what a root tuber looks like. A root tuber will contain several growing points (eyes). Some, like day lilies, form separate and distinct plants, which can simply be pulled apart. This type of sectioning is generally done in fall or summer while the plant is still in its growth stage. Other tuberous root plants, such as dahlias, are more difficult to separate. In order to separate more difficult plants like dahlias, you will need to cut the clumps apart so that each root has a growth bud from which to start. The best time to separate them is in early spring.
Imagine a ginger root - that is a rhizome. Rhizomes are sending out roots shoots from its nodes. Some plants, some ires species for example, have rhizomes that grow above the soil surface. The new growth on rhizomes is produced from growth points located at their sides. Rhizomes are divided by breaking the sections apart at the natural divisions between them, being sure that each of the new divisions has at least one growth point on it.
As you can see it is not difficult to divide the different kind of bulbs as long as you know what you are dealing with. Happy gardening!
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