Flowers that grow from bulbs are one of the first signs of spring, pushing their sturdy green leaves through the ground as soon as a thaw occurs and the days get a little longer. Although inexperienced gardeners may worry about the health of bulbs that flower during unexpected warm spells, most bulbs are hardy enough to withstand a freeze as long as their stems are not broken during the process.
Despite the hardiness of most spring bulbs, you simply can’t plant them in the ground and then forget them. Even when they are not blooming, bulbs need a modicum of tender loving care to ensure that they will produce even better flowers in subsequent years. Pushing Daisies Gardening Blog has the following suggestions to make your bulb garden the envy of the neighborhood.
Remove Spent Flowers
Take off blooms from tulips, daffodils and other large flowers as soon as they fade. By doing so, you will help the plant to transfer its energy into forming larger bulbs instead of setting seeds. Smaller bulbs such as muscari and puschkinia need to set seed and self-sow, allowing them to form larger stands of flowers.
Keep Green Foliage Intact
Resist the temptation to remove green foliage after the blooms are spent. Keeping the leaves intact allows them to nourish the bulb and ultimately the following year’s blooms, which actually form during the summer. Don’t cut or pull off leaves until they are yellow. Neither should you braid leaves as this technique reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by the leaves and hinders growth. Mowing leaves of flowers such as crocuses and snowdrops that have been naturalized in a lawn is okay if you wait at least six weeks after they have bloomed.
Don’t Forget Fertilizer
Spring bulbs need fertilizer, but you need to know when to apply it. When initially planting bulbs, work in rock phosphate or superphosphate into the bottom of holes. Avoid bonemeal if digging animals are a problem in your area. Use a balanced fertilizer in early spring when shoots emerge and again after flowing to boost foliage and bulb growth.
Follow Pushing Daisies to learn everything you need to know about gardening.