Caring for Bulbs
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Most spring-flowering bulb care is aimed at helping the plant store energy in the bulb so that it will overwinter and bloom again the following year.

After flowers on spring-flowering bulbs fade, remove them so the plants don't invest energy in developing seeds. You want them putting their energy back into the bulb. Do not remove foliage until it turns yellow and dies back naturally. For tulips and daffodils, this may be as late as mid-July. Cut off foliage at ground level and remove it to prevent disease. Take as few leaves as possible if cutting blooms to bring inside. The traditional English gardening practice of bunching and tying leaves reduces their exposure to the sun during a critical time when they need maximum exposure to sun.

Rain usually provides sufficient water for spring-flowering bulbs. But they benefit from thorough watering during prolonged dry spells, even after flowering.

Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers on spring-flowering bulbs. When plants are in bloom, apply about 2 pounds of 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 per 100 square feet. Scratch it into the top inch of soil, avoiding contact with foliage and roots.

Some tall, heavy-flowered plants may require staking for support. Be careful not to damage the bulbs when inserting stakes.

Cover spring-flowering bulb plantings with 2 to 4 inches of organic material after cold weather arrives in fall. Avoid unshredded leaves because they can mat down tightly. Remove the mulch in early spring.

After several years, daffodils and some other species form clumps of multiple bulbs. The size of their flowers and length of their stems decreases as the bulbs become overcrowded. Wait until after the foliage dies, then dig up the bulbs, separate them, and replant them with wider spacings. You can replant them immediately after you dig them in June or July, or you can wash off excess soil, dry them, and store them in shallow boxes in a cool, dry, airy place until fall planting time. Replant only the largest bulbs in your flower beds. Plant the smaller bulbs in a nursery bed for a season or two until they reach flowering size.

Dig up tender summer bulbs after their foliage dies or is killed by frost. Clean off excess soil and store in a cool (60 degrees F to 65 degrees F), dry place over winter. Avoid storing bulbs at temperatures below 50 degrees F or above 70 degrees F.

Large hybridized tulips tend to bloom well the first year but generally decrease in size rapidly in following years. Species tulips, on the other hand, may last many years.

Caring for Bulbs