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How to Propagate Bulbs Through Twin-Scaling

Learn how to propagate more plants from a single bulb using the twin-scaling method.

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get more plants from a single bulb
  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Prepare the Bulbs for Dissection

Trim away the top growth and roots, but not the basal plate which is the flattened part at the bottom of the bulb where the roots develop. Peel off the tunic, or outer sheath, of the bulbs like the skin of an onion. Remove any dead parts of the bulb by removing the outermost scale until the bulb is clean and white. Then cut off the top one-third of the bulb. Wipe off any remaining soil and other debris from the bulbs. Allow them to dry for two to three days.

Step 2: Slice the Bulbs Into Equal-Sized Segments

Cut each bulb into about four to eight segments, slicing from the top of the bulb to the bottom, or where the roots were. Make sure that each segment has a piece of the basal plate still attached; the basal plate is the portion at the base of the bulb where the roots develop. Carefully peel apart at least two of the layers on each segment like you would an onion. Take care to leave the basal portion attached and intact.

get more plants from a single bulb

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 3: Soak the Segments in Fungicide

Soak for 10 minutes in a fungicide and allow them to air-dry. An alternative option for the fungicide is one part bleach to ten parts water.

soak the segments in a fungicide and allow to dry

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 4: Place the Segments into a Plastic Bag and Store

Seal them in the plastic bag with moist, sterile vermiculite, leaving air in the bag when you close it. Write the bulb name and date with the permanent marking pen on the outside of the plastic bag. Keep the segments in the bag in a warm, dark place for three months.

seal segments in bag of vermiculite leaving air

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 5: Transplant the New Bulbs

When the segments have formed tiny individual bulbils with roots, or mini-bulbs, they're ready to be transplanted. Plant them into individual four-inch pots or together in flats filled with sterile potting soil, water and allow them to grow for a year or more until they form more roots. It may take two growing seasons before you see blooms on your new bulbs.

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