In a few short weeks you will start to see the results of your fall bulb planting. Perhaps you planted crocus, hyacinths, and of course, tulips. As they show their first leaves and produce blooms, they brighten any garden and really signify the season.
The big question then is how to care for these plants so that they remain in bloom as long as possible, and how to care for them as they “die” off so that you can have the same or better reward next year.
The trick is to leave the plants alone as long as there is foliage so the plant can gather solar energy for the next season’s growth. Summer care of spring bulbs means retaining foliage for as long as possible. Many gardeners neglect bulb plants after they are finished blooming or even cut off their foliage. Don’t do this, as plants need leaves to gather energy through photosynthesis. This is actually a very important part of the bulb life cycle. If plants cannot gather energy and store it in the bulb, the following season’s blooms and foliage will be negatively affected. Also, please don’t tie up the foliage. The sun can’t get at the leaves to continue the growth cycle.
Once the flowering is finished, feed the bulb with a high middle number fertilizer. As well, continue to water the bulbs as you would any other plant in the garden. This keeps the bulbs and roots from drying out, as well as supplying nutrients to the plant.
Remove the foliage when it turns dark yellow or brown. By then you may be seeing the other late spring plants coming up or will have placed a few annuals around so it won’t be unsightly.
And then in the fall, return to your local nursery and pick up a few new varieties so your garden gets more spectacular each year.
–Originally published in the April 2018 edition of Neighbors of Manotick, written by Rochelle Spracklin of Yards Unlimited Landscaping