Caring for Bulbs After Bloom

A few late tulips and daffodils are still blooming, but many spring-blooming bulbs are past their prime now. So how do you care for bulbs after bloom? Here are some tips:

Deadhead. Unless you are planning to harvest seed or you want the bulbs to naturalize and spread in an area, start by removing the spent blooms. Deadheading will prevent the plant from putting its energy into creating seeds. It will also give the area a slightly neater look.

tulip bulbs in bloom

Taking care of bulbs after bloom assures years of enjoyment.

Leave the foliage standing. While you don’t want the bulbs to create seed, you do want them to recharge so they can bloom again next year. Leave the foliage of the bulb up to gather energy until it naturally fades. It won’t look super pretty, but so many other things are blooming and growing in early June, you probably won’t notice a little yellowing bulb foliage. If it really bothers you, you can cut the top part of the foliage off, leaving a few inches of green to gather energy.

Don’t fertilize — yet. There is no need to fertilize bulbs after bloom. However, bulbs are relatively heavy feeders, so adding a balanced fertilizer to the soil in fall is a good idea. (How do you know where to fertilize? Take a photo of your bulbs now.) You can also add a water soluble fertilizer to the bulbs just after the foliage pokes through the soil in spring.

Plant bulbs in good drainage. Bulbs are just-right plants—they don’t like if if things get too dry or too wet. If your bulbs are in flower beds with other blooming plants, you’ll likely water them enough through the summer for them to grow well the next year. Bulbs in very dry spots may dry out and those in boggy areas are likely to rot in the ground.

Think about where to plant more bulbs. Remember that picture you took? Keep it handy for the fall to help you decide where to plant more bulbs next year. Spring blooming bulbs are planted in the fall, usually in late September or early October in Minnesota.

For more tips on planting, growing and caring for bulbs after bloom, check out this post from the University of Minnesota Extension.

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