Caring for Spring Bulbs

Caring for spring bulbs after they have flowered.

After spring bulbs have finished flowering it is the most important time in their growing
cycle. If they are not given the right treatment after flowering they may not flower in future
years. Unfortunately, after your daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs have finished
flowering they tend to look untidy but they need to be kept growing as long as possible.
How often have you seen daffodils with their leaves tied in a knot so they look nice and
neat and tidy? This is the worst thing you can do to them because when you tie the leaves
in a knot the bulb will stop growing and you risk the bulb going blind (not flowering).

After they have flowered they need to be kept growing to build up strength to flower the
next year. The bulbs are a storage organ and providing the bulbs are treated correctly to
build up energy, all that is required for the bulbs to flower is water. Hyacinths are slightly
different because they have been treated to fool them into thinking they have been though
winter, so you can get hyacinth flowers at Christmas, but they usually don’t flower the
following year.

Spring flowering bulbs naturally go through a process called vernalisation. This is a
natural process were they go through a cold spell which sends a signal to the bulb that
spring has arrived and it is time to flower. They should be kept watered and fed with high
potash feed. When planted in containers use tomato feed and when in the ground use
Rose food and allow them to die down naturally. After they have flowered, dead-head
them so they don’t put energy into producing seed.

After they have died down (usually in late May early June), they can then be lifted and
stored in a cool dry place ready to replant in the autumn. The only problem with this is that
spring flowering bulbs often get in the way of planting summer bedding. One of the best
ways to get round this is to plant the bulbs in planting baskets. These are net pots that you
plant the bulbs in (in the ground), thus allowing the bulbs to grow naturally. When they
have finished flowering they can be lifted and replanted in a shady spot in the garden so
the bulbs can be looked after to die down naturally which makes way for summer bedding.

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