| B. Rosie Lerner
Clean up Bulbs to Encourage Next Year's
As the dazzling display of Spring-flowering bulbs comes to a close, its
time to for a bit of spring cleaning. Now is the time to remove spent
blossoms and prevent seed production from stealing needed carbohydrate
reserves that can be better saved for next year's bloom.
Even though the foliage that remains is not very attractive and, in some
cases, is downright unsightly, resist the urge to cut those green leaves
off the plants. The health of this year's foliage will determine the amount
of carbohydrates that will be stored in the bulb below ground this fall.
These stored reserves, in turn, determine the strength of the blooms for
Some gardeners attempt to "tidy" up the foliage by gathering
the leaves into bundles and folding, braiding or tying them in a knot.
Although it is slightly better than removing the foliage, the leaves that
are inside the bundle will not be exposed to light, thus reducing photosynthesis
and future blooming potential.
Instead, help the foliage thrive by providing plenty of sunshine, a pinch
of fertilizer and water when the weather is dry. When the bulb foliage
begins to turn yellow or brown, you can remove the leaves and add them
to your compost pile. Tulip foliage generally dies back by mid June, but
daffodil foliage can remain green until mid-summer.
You can make the bulb foliage less noticeable by inter-planting perennial
and annual flowers among the bulbs. Inter-planting will also help keep
the bed interesting long after the bulb flowers fade. Select plants that
bloom at different times in spring and summer to keep the bed in color
throughout the season. Plants such as candytuft, dianthus, false rock-cress
and phlox provide early color, yet stay low to the ground to provide an
attractive background for bulb flowers. Perennials, such as daylilies,
salvia and coreopsis, as well as many annual flowers, grow a bit taller
in late spring and summer, thus providing a good screen to mask fading