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Cass County Extension

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Caring for Spring Flowering Bulbs

Colorful spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths and daffodils will continue to bloom early each spring with a minimum amount of care. Some commonly  made mistakes in caring for them after they bloom can weaken them and lead to fewer flowers each year.

One of the most important things to remember is that the leaves must be left on the plants until they yellow. The leaves will help the bulb build up its strength for next years bloom. The flower stem can be removed as soon as the flower has fallen apart. The yellowing leaves can be hidden by planting annual flowers such as petunias among the bulb plants in late May.

Another way to encourage strong bulb development is to fertilize the bed as soon as the plants poke through the ground in the spring and again a month later. Pale or undersized leaves usually indicate a need for fertilizer. Apply two pounds of 5-10-5 or a similar fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed. Be sure that the fertilizer isn't sprinkled on the plants and left there. After fertilizing, soak the bed down well to dissolve the fertilizer and move it into the soil

If you remove the bloom for flowers in an arrangement or some other use, take only one or two leaves with the flower. Remove the flower with a sharp knife. Don't just break them off. A decline in flower size and numbers may mean that its time to dig and replant your bulbs.

Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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