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Summer Care For Spring Flowering Bulbs

How did your tulips and daffodils grow this spring? Did they come up the way you planted them or were they more crowded than in previous years? If they were too crowded, you can easily dig the bulbs up, divide them and replant them.

Although less attractive, these leaves shouldn’t be cut off until they turn brown.

After the plants have completely died back, remove the brown leaves and stems and dig up the bulbs. If you don’t want a random color pattern, it’s best to put each color bulb in a separate container.

The bulbs that you dug up may have grown new segments, which are causing the crowding. They will look similar to onions that have grown baby onions off the main bulb or like some houseplants that grow offshoots, aka pups.

Rinse the soil off the bulbs and carefully remove the new segments, or offshoots, from the bulbs. They are then ready to replant. Since the new segment will probably produce shorter, smaller flowers than the parent, give some thought to how you want to replant them. Remember, the objective of this exercise is to relieve crowding so they won’t all go back in the same space they came out of.

Some points to consider:

• Do you care whether the plants are a variety of heights when they grow next spring? If you don’t care, mix some the pups with some parent bulbs when replanting. Otherwise, replant the parents in the original bed and the pups in a new bed.

• The parent plant may be a hybrid, which means that the offshoot may look like the parent from which you removed it, or it could look like the other parent, or it could look completely different. Consequently, it could be a completely different color and even a different shape. If you are fine with that possibility, go ahead and plant a mixture of parents and pups in both the old bed and the new bed. If not, plant them in separate beds and see what comes up in the offshoot bed next season.

If the summer is hot when you divide the bulbs, label the container(s) with type of plants and their colors and store them in a cool, dry place until the weather cools down. If your weather is consistently cooler than a normal summer where you live, it’s OK to replant now.

Plant both the parents and the pups the same way you would plant a new bulb. Plunge a trowel or bulb planter into the soil. Pull the trowel to you or lift up the planter with its plug of soil. Place one bulb in the hole with the hairy, root side down and the pointy side up. Carefully backfill. It’s OK to spread some bulb fertilizer on the ground around the bulb and water it in. Then wait until next spring and see what pops up.

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One comment on “Summer Care For Spring Flowering Bulbs

  1. I wish tulips would get crowded! They do not do well enough here to bother with. Some of us grow them as expensive annuals. I do not like them for that. They are too expensive and bloom too briefly.
    Offshoots of bulbs ‘should’ be genetically identical to the parent. I know with something even as simple and stable as agapanthus, reversion sometimes happens. (Some blue agapanthus eventually turn white, or white turn blue.) Now that I think of it, a red freesia showed up in the blue freesias. I don’t know how that happened! Feral freesia seedlings are pale white and scrawny, but even more fragrant than their very fragrant parents. Of course, most hybrid plants do not produce viable seed.

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