46April 11, 2012

Many of you will have given or received a pot of spring flowering bulbs for Easter. The question always comes up as to whether the bulbs can be planted outside after the bulbs have stopped flowering. Let me take a bit of time to explain to you how to do this.

You will generally find that you can buy tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, crocus, grape hyacinth and Easter lilies as potted plants. These bulbs have been artificially made to bloom before they would normally bloom in the garden. In the case of the crocus and grape hyacinth, the bulbs are planted so that they will bloom in time for Easter. With all the bulbs, once they flower this year, they won’t flower again until next year. If you want them to be in your garden and to flower again next year, you need to properly take care of the bulbs now.

Once the bulbs you have in the pot are done flowering, you should cut off the flower stalks but you don’t want to cut off the leaves. In the case of the Easter lily, you will take off the flowers at the top of the stalk, but you won’t cut off the stalk. The reason the leaves have to stay is because the leaves make food that is stored back into the bulb. It is this stored food that allows the bulb to flower again next year. If the leaves do not make enough food, the bulb will only put up leaves next year.
Bulbs that have been forced in pots will require you to add fertilizer to the pots. The soil that is in the pot won’t hold enough fertilizer on its own to allow the leaves to make sufficient food for re-blooming again next year. Tulips will require the most fertilizer for the leaves to make sufficient food. You will need to keep the pots of bulbs in a window once they are done flowering. You should water the pots when the soil is just beginning to dry. For the best results, you should use a diluted fertilizer solution at least once a week when you are watering the bulbs. This will give the leaves the nutrients they will require to store the food back into the bulbs. You will need to do this until the leaves begin to naturally turn yellow. Once the leaves turn yellow, you can cut the leaves off and place the bulbs in the garden. You can, at this point separate the bulbs and plant them individually in the garden. However, bulbs always look better when they are planted in clumps. For this reason, I will usually take the pot full of bulbs and just plant the whole clump in one spot.
If you have done everything correctly, your bulbs should flower for years to come in your garden.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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