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Tips on Pruning Fall Planted Bulbs: Timing and Techniques


Cutting Back Fall-Planted Bulbs

Fall bulbs include flowers such as daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinth. The best time to prune is after they bloom in the spring. Let the flower completely fall and the seed pod go brown.  If the green leaves have started to die back and have turned brown then it's okay to prune. To prune, cut the died daffodil leaves as close to the surface of the ground as possible.  If you cut the stems too early, it will not feed the bulb the nutrients it needs to store for the following season.


If the leaves are still green, then the bulb isn't ready to be pruned. Some people braid the leaves of daffodils.(See picture to the right). The Daffodil Society suggest that daffodil leaves should not be braided because they need sunshine to fully restore the bulb below.  If the bulb doesn't fully restore, it can affect blossoms for the following year.

For all other bulbs its best to wait until the leaves are brown and ready to cut. To test to see if the bulb is ready to be cut, gently pull any dead leaves.  If the leaves pull off without any resistance then the bulb has taken all the nutrients it needs for the next season and its ready to cut back.  This technique is used for all bulbs.

Do you have any techniques you use?  If so, share with us on facebook we would love to know!

2 thoughts on “Tips on Pruning Fall Planted Bulbs: Timing and Techniques”

  • susan sisler

    I have a question about daffodils. I received a bag for Christmas and was not able to plant them. I placed them in the frig and now can I plant them in a container, or plant them outside. I'm afraid if I hold them any longer they will rot. Appreciate your help.

  • Lynn

    Please DON'T braid the leaves of daffodils!! They need sun on all parts of the leaves to make good bulbs for next year.

    Member of the American Daffodil Society

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