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Tips on Pruning Fall Planted Bulbs: Timing and Techniques

Tulips and Daffodils blooming among Ferns

By Heather

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.  Once 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.

Braided Daffodil Leaves

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.

braided daffodil
Exampled of braided daffodil

Fall Planted Bulbs For Spring Blooms