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Caring For Spring Flowering Bulbs

First signs of Spring.

First signs of Spring.

Bulbs are, arguably, the most carefree, low maintenance flowers you can plant in your landscape. However, there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free plant, just low maintenance.

The little crocus will soon make its appearance as the harbinger of spring. Even if there’s snow on the ground, the flowers will pop right up through the snow. The crocus will be followed by daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. After giving us our first splash of spring color, these beautiful flowers will fade. Later in the season, their leaves will turn brown.

As soon as the flowers fade, some enthusiastic gardeners cut these plants right back to the ground. Others just leave them and let nature take its course. The right thing to do is to meet those two extremes right in the middle. When the flowers die, remove them but leave the green foliage in place. The green leaves continue making food through photosynthesis. The food is stored in the bulb to sustain the plant through next winter. When the leaves and stem die and turn brown, it’s then time to remove them. The bulbs will lie dormant through the summer and will begin growing new roots in the fall.

It’s not necessary to fertilize for the summer, but a light coating of mulch will help moderate soil temperatures. Check the mulch again in the fall to be sure it’s at least three inches deep. In fall, your bulbs might also like a balanced fertilizer, depending on how fertile your soil is naturally. Most bulb experts recommend mixing bone meal with fertilizer but I’ve found that bone meal is a magnet for hungry wildlife who eat the bulbs as well as the bone meal.

With fertilization and mulching complete, you can relax and wait until color bursts on to the scene next spring to signal that your landscape is waking up from another drab winter.

The only other thing you have to do in the fall is to plant more bulbs so your spring awakening will be even more spectacular. You can never have too many bulbs. These early risers provide you with plenty of spring color at a time when most of your other plants are still sleeping. Yet they ask so little in return.

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