HOW TO CARE FOR SPRING BULBS
If you’re spring bulbs (daffodils, iris, muscari, tulips, crocus, hyacinth) are starting to look like this, it’s time to take action to help them stay healthy.
A bit of botany
Flowers are part of a plants reproductive cycle. Flowers attract bees and insects that pollinate the plant. Once pollination has occurred the flower fades and turns into a seed head or pod. As the pods ripen, they pop, and seeds are dispersed onto the ground ready to grow and the whole process begins again.
Producing seed takes a huge amount of a plants energy and the thing is with bulbs is they are bulbs – they will come back year after year without seed reproduction.
Bulbs are underground storage organs. They contain all a plant needs to survive through their dormant period and all they need to burst into life next spring.
The key to incredible displays year on year is to ensure that the bulb gets to store the maximum energy it can before the plant dies back.
This is where we as gardeners can step in and give them a helping hand.
- Remove fading flowerheads
As flowers begin to fade snip or pinch them off. This stops the plant using its energy to produce seed and ensures maximum energy is pushed back into the bulb.
- Give bulbs a feed
After you have removed the flowerheads treat your bulbs to a feed with a general-purpose plant food. This gives them a welcome boost of nutrients that they can add to the energy store in their bulb.
- Never cut the foliage back
Some of you (me included) are old enough to remember the sight of daffodil leaves tied in knots in everyone’s front garden. As time has moved on we now understand that this is not a good way to look after your bulbs. A plant gets its energy and food from photosynthesis a process that happens in a plant leaves. When we tie up leaves or cut them off we remove the plants ability to photosynthesise and so hinder it’s energy making and energy storing capability. If leaves start to look tatty use other plants to obscure the fading foliage.
If you grow your bulbs in pots it can be a bit of a pain waiting for the foliage to die back before creating your next container masterpiece. To free up space simply remove the bulbs and replant them in an out of the way corner of your garden or a spare plastic plant pot you have and leave them to die back naturally out of the way.
Looking after your spring bulbs is an enjoyable quick job that will reward you with vigorous and plentiful blooms every spring.