Flower Bulbs - After bloom care
After your spring flower bulbs have bloomed do you leave them in the ground or is it best to dig them up? There is always some debate amongst gardener as to what to do with your flower bulbs after they have bloomed. Here are some tips on after bloom care for your spring flowering bulbs.
What should be done after the flower bulbs have bloomed?
After the blooms from the flower bulbs have faded, "dead-head" them by clipping off the spent blooms so that they won't go to seed. Some gardeners say this isn't necessary for daffodils, but your garden will look neater by cutting off each bloom when it is finished.
Don't touch those leaves!
The main requirement for bulb flowers after they have bloomed is to keep their leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next spring's blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves! This energy or food is stored in the white fleshy part of the bulb for use next spring.
Since each leaf needs to be exposed to the sun, it is important not to bunch, tie, braid or cut the bulb's leaves during this six to eight week period. The bulb's leaves can be unsightly but it is vital to your bulb's health to leave them until they are completely brown and dead at which time they can be trimmed off.
Try planting other annuals or perennials in amongst your bulbs so that these will grow up and hide the yellowing leaves of your bulbs.
If you feel you want to fertilize your bulbs, this should only be done about six weeks before they bloom. A fast release nitrogen fertilizer is the best thing to feed the bulbs with.(See our article How to Choose the right Fertilizer) Some gardeners like to throw in a handful of bonemeal when they first plant their bulbs as this can help the roots get off to a good start.
Some gardeners go through the bother of lifting the flower bulbs out of the ground every year, storing them for summer and then replanting again in the fall. For all the bother it really doesn't improve the bulbs performance at all. As well, leaving your bulbs in the ground will cause most varieties to naturalize, that is, multiply giving you even more bulbs next spring. Does size matter? Generally within the same species of bulb, a bigger bulb will produce a bigger flower. However you can't compare one species of tulip with another as their sizes may differ greatly according to its variety. Once properly planted and cared for, your bulbs can increase in size every season bringing a better display every spring.
Most bulb merchants will stop shipping bulbs when the planting season for them has ended. Gardeners can still order however and the bulbs are shipped as soon as planting time is optimal.