Tim's Weekly Column
April 19, 2019
Sunday is Easter Sunday and many of you will give or receive pots of Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinth or Lilies. What you may not know is how to care for these plants after you receive the plants.
As you may know, the bulbs of tulips, daffodils and hyacinth are planted in the fall and they bloom in the spring. Lily bulbs can be planted in the spring or in some cases they are planted in the fall. The lilies usually are summer flowering plants. In order to get these Easter plants to flower for Easter, they are planted into pots and then they have to go through a dormant period of about 16 weeks to allow them to develop a root system. Once the root system is developed and the spring flowering bulbs have gone through their dormant period, they are brought into greenhouses and they are exposed to sunlight and warm temperatures which causes the plants to put out leaves and eventually the bulbs put out flower stalks and will then soon be in bloom. The lilies always seem to be a difficult plant to get to form flower buds that will come into bloom in time for Easter.
OK, so now you know some of the technical stuff, now you need to know how to care for these plants in your home.
If you think about it, the tulips, daffodils and hyacinth that you may plant outside bloom in the cool days of spring. The potted plants that you have received need to be kept at cool temperatures in the house if you want the flowers to last longer. You will need to keep the soil on the dry side but you don’t want the soil to go dry. The combination of cool indoor temperatures and keeping the soil a bit on the dry side will make the flowers last the longest time. The Easter lilies like to be a bit warmer and the soil likes to be on the slightly dry side.
Eventually the flowers will go by on your plants and some people will just throw out the bulbs. However, you may be able to get those plants outside and into the ground and have them flower again in 2020. Let me tell you what you need to do to make this happen.
Once the flowers fade on the tulips, daffodils or hyacinth, you need to cut off the flower stalk. On the lilies, you cut off the flowers where they attach to the flower stem near the leaves. On all the plants, it is critical in making sure that the leaves remain. It is the leaves that make the food that is stored in the bulb that will enable the bulbs to flower next year. We are lucky that Easter is later this year because the warming temperatures will allow you to get the potted plants outside and into the ground sooner. When Easter is in late March, the whole process of moving the plants outside is difficult because of the very cold temperatures,
While you have the potted bulbs in the house, you need to fertilize the plants with a liquid plant food. You will mix the plant food with water and use this solution each time you water the plants. This will help the leaves to make the food to store in the bulbs. Once the temperatures warm up in M ay, you can move the potted plants outside. You want to dig a hole about 6 inches deep and very carefully slide the bulbs out of the pot. Place the contents of the pot into the soil and backfill with the soil from the hole you dug. You want to keep up with fertilizing the bulbs until the leaves turn yellow. Once this happens, you can cut off the leaves and wait for the spring of 2020 to see if your bulbs will flower again.
The Easter lilies can be a difficult to get them to come back next year, but I figure it is worth a shot. I have customers who have had good luck with planting the lily and having it come back.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.