Bulbs are the epitome of nature’s talent for packaging, containing within themselves all the essentials they need to grow to provide gorgeous blooms year after year if well cared for. Your spring bulbs may be snug underground awaiting the warm weather of Spring but they need to be cared for until then. Bulbs are designed by nature to withstand cold winter temperatures. Indeed they rely on winter’s cold to trigger the biochemical process necessary to bring the bulb to flower in spring, but to help you get the best height, colour and performance out of your spring bulbs, here are some must-know tips for caring for your spring bulbs after they are planted.
- During a warm winter spell, the bulb leaves may start to sprout but do not worry as the foliage and flower bulbs can withstand freezing temperatures without damage. Only when brittle stems are broken, or the weather changes are too abrupt will be when the flowers suffer.
- If you wish to feed your spring bulbs, feed them at planting time or just as they begin to emerge in the spring.
- In colder areas, apply a nice layer of mulch over the bulb bed once the ground temperatures have dropped.
- For sprouting Daffodils, water sparingly as Daffodils do not require much care but some watering will help establishing roots.
- Potted Daffodils require regular watering as the soil tends to dry out quicker.
- If there is no snow cover, the bulbs will also need water throughout the winter.
- Apply a low-nitrogen, high-potash (potassium) fertilizer after flowering if bulbs are not performing as desired.
- Apply fertilizer after bulbs flower if your spring is long and temperate; bulbs will have a chance to use the extra nutrients to produce bigger carbohydrate stores.
- In late February, remove mulches from snowdrops and crocuses so the shoots can come through.
- In February and March, keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of crocuses and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.
- Do not let the soil dry out. If the ground is fairly dry in the spring, make sure to water sparingly.
- Water during the autumn/ winter with a water-soluble fertilizer to nourish the bulbs as they develop new roots and top growth. Your bulbs will survive without fertilizer, but providing extra nutrients encourages more flowers, larger blossoms and longer life for your bulbs.
- After the tulips bulbs are planted, you need to water them thoroughly and then cover the area with a mulch of pine bark or shredded leaves to protect them.
- You can build up their strength further by giving them a liquid feed every 10 to 14 days while they’re still in leaf.
- After your spring bulbs have bloomed, remove spent flowers of large-flowered bulbs, such as Tulips or Daffodils, as soon as they fade.
- When the season’s blooms are past, your snowdrops need to store energy for next year’s show. Allow the leaves to photosynthesize (process sunlight to produce food) until they yellow and wither, before removing the spent foliage. Trimming still-green foliage will reduce plants’ ability to nourish next year’s flowers, resulting in fewer, smaller flowers.
- Six weeks after blooming is when it will be safe to mow the green leaves of any naturalized crocus and snowdrops on your lawn.
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