Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Spring is one of my favorite times in the garden and you can get the most out of those spring bulbs with these tips today on Southern Gardening.
Mississippi has many plant species that bloom very early in the year when the temperatures are still fairly cool. Tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth color the garden when there are few other flowers. However, the downside to these wonderful spring-flowering plants is the foliage begins to look ratty after the flowers are spent.
But, “Don't touch those daffodil leaves.” The foliage, no matter how ratty it looks, is vital for flowering the following year. I tend to be a purist regarding daffodil foliage and advise that foliage be left alone.
Once a week, gently tug on the foliage; if it readily comes loose, it is time to remove it. Those leaves are gathering sunlight from the ever-lengthening days, and through the miracle of photosynthesis, converting light energy into sugars used to replenish and increase the size of the bulb. To completely replenish the bulb, the leaves must remain intact for at least six weeks.
Deadheading is important for maximizing the stored sugars in the bulb. Deadhead hyacinths, daffodils and tulips to avoid energy being wasted on seed production.
But what are you supposed to do about the ratty foliage? To borrow an idea from the apparel industry, we need to accessorize our spring-flowering bulbs.
You could also interplant your bulbs with flowering perennials that would hide the declining foliage of the bulbs. Perennials require less work in the garden than planting annuals each year.
Remember that gardening should be fun. The garden is a place to try new plants and different plant combinations. Accessorizing your spring-flowering bulbs gives you the opportunity to try different plant combinations. Use the coming winter months to dream of great combinations.
I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.