Caring for Spring Flower Bulbs
There is nothing
quite as welcome as those beautiful spring flowers that seem to
emerge from nowhere to welcome the arrival of spring. Bulb type
flowers are really unique plants, because they spend most of their
days resting quietly beneath the surface of the soil. Then right on
schedule, up they come, full of bloom and vigor, and then almost as
fast as they came, they go. Except for the green leafy part of the
plant that tends to linger longer than we would like them to.
short bloom time and unattractive foliage after the blooms are gone,
they are still a wonderful addition to any landscape. But how should
you care for them? First let's talk about how to use them in your landscape.
Flowers of all
kinds are best when planted in groupings. Many people buy 25 or 50
bulbs and just go around the yard planting helter skelter. That's
fine if that's what you want, but when planted that way they tend to
blend in with the landscape and really don't show up well at all.
When you plant them in large groups they are a breathtaking showpiece.
In the early
spring start thinking about where you would like to create a bed for
flower bulbs. Prepare the bed by raising it with good rich topsoil,
and if at all possible add some well composted cow manure. Do this in
the spring while you are in the gardening mood; you may not be in the
fall. Over the summer fill the bed with annual flowers to keep the
weeds down, and to pretty up your yard for the summer. Come fall all
you have to do is pull out the annuals and plant your bulbs to the
depth recommended on the package.
If you think you
could have a problem with squirrels digging up the bulbs and eating
them, you can also wrap the bulbs in steel wool, leaving just the tip
of the bulb exposed so it can grow out of the little wire cage you've
created. Or you can just plant the bulbs and then cover the bed with
chicken wire or plastic fencing until the bulbs start to grow in the spring.
When the bulbs
come up in the spring and start blooming, you should clip off the
blooms as they start to wither. This keeps the bulb from producing
seeds, which requires a lot of energy, and you want the bulb to use
all of its available energy to store food in preparation for the
bulb's resting period. Once the bulbs are completely done blooming
you don't want to cut off the tops until they are withered and die
back. The million dollar question is how to treat the tops until that happens.
Many people bend
them over and slip a rubber band over them, or in the case of bulbs
like Daffodils tie them with one of the long leaves. This seems to
work because it is a very common practice among many experienced
gardeners However, Mike is about to rain on the parade.
disagree with this theory because back about 6th grade we learned
about photosynthesis in science class. To recap what we learned, and
without going into the boring details, photosynthesis is the process
of the plant using the sun's rays to make food for itself. The rays
from the sun are absorbed by the foliage and the food making process
begins. In the case of a flower bulb this food is transported to the
bulb beneath the ground and stored for later use.
So basically the
leaves of the plant are like little solar panels. Their job is to
absorb the rays from the sun to begin the process known as
photosynthesis. If we fold them over and handcuff them with their
hands behind their back, they are not going to be able to do their
job. It's like throwing a tarpaulin over 80% of a solar panel.
In order for the
leaves to absorb the rays from the sun, the surface of the foliage
has to be exposed to the sun. On top of that, when you bend the
foliage over, you are restricting the flow of nutrients to the bulb.
The veins in the leaves and the stem are a lot like our blood
vessels. If you restrict them the flow stops.
You decide. I've
presented my case. Bending them over seems to work, but I've spent a
lot of money on my bulbs. I want them running at full speed. What I
do is clip the blooms off once they are spent, and just leave the
tops alone until they are yellow and wilted. If they are still not
wilted when it's time to plant my annual flowers, I just plant the
annuals in between the bulbs. As the bulbs die back the annuals tend
to grow and conceal them. If one shows through I clip it off. It
seems to work well for me.
About The Author
McGroarty is the owner of FreePlants.com. Visit his site and sign up
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