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When Spring Blooms Fade

With the gorgeous display of spring blooms fading in much of the country, our customers are asking “How do I care for my bulbs once they are done blooming?” We are here to help with instructions on how (and why) to care for your precious bulbs once they have finished blooming for the spring.

Once tulips have faded, “dead-head” them by clipping off the faded blooms so that they won’t go to seed. Daffodils do not require dead-heading and can be left as is. The main requirement for bulb flowers in the post-bloom period is to leave the leaves alone so the plant can put its energy into “recharging” its bulb for next spring’s performance.This “energy charge” is gained through photosynthesis as the plant uses the sun’s energy to turn basic elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into food. This food is stored in the bulb’s “scales,” the white fleshy part of the bulb, for use next spring.

It is necessary to leave the green foliage exposed to the sun until it turns brown, or six weeks after the flower has finished blooming. Fight the urge to trim back or constrain the leaves during their die-back phase after blooming. Don’t bunch, tie, braid or cut bulb plant leaves during this period. Dealing with the fading foliage is basically one of those things that lovers of bulbs must deal with. The only management tip is camouflage.

Try planting bulbs with annual wildflowers or perennial plants, or planting them strategically nearby so that they help hide the declining bulb foliage as best as possible. As a planting strategy, plant clumps of bulbs instead of full beds. This way you will have a lovely spring show, and plenty of room to plant camouflaging companions.

Avoid fertilizing the annuals planted in the same bed until the bulbs have died back. Bulbs in spring, if fertilized at all, should only get a dose of fast-release nitrogen about six weeks before flowering (normally bulbs want low nitrogen mix, but in spring it is the green-encouraging nitrogen that is called for). Fertilizing bulbs too close to flowering time, when the bulbs can’t metabolize the food, only encourages fusarium disease and other nasty things that will harm your bulbs!

What are some helpful tips that you have for caring for fall bulbs? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Gardening!

April 20, 2012 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, How-Tos

One Response

  1. Lorraine Syratt - April 24, 2012

    Great food for thought here and some things I didn’t know, like leaving the bulb for 6 weeks before cutting. I was thinking of naturalizing an area of my lawn with some bulbs, but I need to reconsider. I think the grass will grow too high before I’m able to mow it. I always thought that by the time the grass was ready to mow in early spring, the bulbs would be finished and all would be well, USDA zone 5b. I’ll have to find some scilla or something that blooms very very early. Thanks for the good read.