by Amanda

With the gorgeous display of Spring-Blooming Bulbs either in full swing or on its way 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.

dutch master 
     daffodil
Daffodils in bloom.
allium with butterfly
A butterfly visits an Allium.
Iris are a great choice for moist soils.

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's 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 the plant's 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 Fall-Planted 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.

Hyacinths
Colorful Hyacinth in bloom.
Tulips and Daffodils
Tulips and Daffodils pair nicely in the garden.

Avoid fertilizing your plants 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 can harm your bulbs.

What are some helpful tips that you have for caring for fading Fall Bulbs? Feel free to leave a comment below or post on our Facebook Page.

Happy Gardening!

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