Iowans have been enjoying the beauty of tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs for the past few weeks. Proper care through the remainder of the spring will help to insure excellent flower displays in succeeding years.
Remove the flower heads on tulips and daffodils as soon as the flowers fade. This prevents undesirable seed and pod development which weakens the bulbs and reduces flower production in following years.
The foliage of spring-flowering bulbs should not be removed until it has died and turned brown. The length of time it takes the foliage to die back depends on the plant species, growing conditions, and weather. It may not be until late June or early July for some bulbs. Premature removal of the plant foliage stops bulb growth and often reduces the number of flowers next spring.
If spring-flowering bulbs need to be transplanted, carefully dig up the bulbs once the foliage has died back. The bulbs can be replanted immediately or dried and stored until fall. Prior to storage, allow the bulbs to dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Then place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store them in a cool, dry place until fall planting.
This article originally appeared in the May 11, 2001 issue, p. 54.