Division of Offsets


The bases of bulbs contain axillary buds that enlarge naturally over time to form daughter bulbs, known as offsets. These may be separated and planted out individually. Lift bulbs either in the spring before active growth begins or in the autumn as the leaves die down. However, when dealing with bulbs that prefer to be lifted in leaf (or 'in the green'), lift them just after they finish flowering.


  1. Use a garden fork to lift the whole clump, taking good care not to damage of the bulbs.
  2. Shake the excess soil from the roots.
  3. Pull the clump of bulbs apart by hand, separating first into smaller clumps and then into individual bulbs.
  4. Discard any unhealthy bulb, and remove any dead or diseased material from around the remaining bulbs.
  5. Choose a large bulb with several well-developed offsets. Clean off the soil from the offsets and pull them away from the parent bulb, taking care to preserve any roots.
  6. Clean the offset bulbs, removing the loose tunics (the papery membrane surrounding the bulb), so that they are ready for replanting in freshly prepared soil.
  7. Replant the bulbs at the correct depth and spacing, in soil or in grass, positioning them in irregular groupsPlanting Bulbs in Grass. Alternatively, plant in pots containing a moist, sandy compost and cover with 2.5 cm (1 in) of compost.

Bulbs that should be lifted in full leaf include:

* snowdrop (Galanthus)
* hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen)
* bluebell (Hyacinthoides)
* summer snowflake (Leucojum)
* wood anemone (Anemone nemerosa)
* winter aconite (Eranthis)