Spring bulbs are starting to flower now, in some warmer areas you may have had some up for a few weeks. There’s nothing quite like the scent of a freesia, the sunniness of a daffodil, or the elegance of a tulip – spring bulbs truly are a garden masterpiece! But once the flowers start to disappear, all is not over! Here are some handy hints to ensure another round of blooms next year:
1. When the flowers have faded, dead-head them clipping off the blooms so they don’t go to seed.
2. Leave the green leaves! The main requirement for bulb flowers after they have bloomed is to keep their leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next spring’s blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves! This energy or food is stored in the white fleshy part of the bulb for use next spring. Since each leaf needs to be exposed to the sun, it is important not to bunch, tie, braid or cut the bulb’s leaves during this six to eight week period. The bulb’s leaves can be unsightly but it is vital to your bulb’s health to leave them until they are completely brown and dead at which time they can be trimmed off. Try planting other annuals or perennials in amongst your bulbs so that these will grow up and hide the yellowing leaves of your bulbs.
3. Once the leaves have completely died down, the bulbs can be lifted from the ground. Do this by pushing a garden fork into the soil around the periphery of the bulbs and gently pry up on all sides. Some bulbs are buried up to 8 inches below the surface, so it may take some work to loosen the soil to an adequate depth. The goal is to lift the bulbs to the surface without cutting into them, so it’s usually best to sift through the loose soil with your hands to find them all. Then use scissors to trim off the roots and any remaining greenery. Rub off the soil and give the bulbs a quick rinse with the hose. Be sure to throw away any bulbs that are damaged or diseased.
4. Let the bulbs dry out for a day or two in a well ventilated area. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry location. You can place bulbs in burlap bags, net produce bags, or even old pantyhose and hang them from the ceiling so they have good air circulation and won’t become moldy. Leave the bulbs over winter and replant come March – May.