Recharging Your Spring Bulbs

Think of your spring flowering bulbs as rechargeable batteries. In spring, after their flowering cycle is finished, the bulb/batteries are discharged. To get the best show possible next spring you need to recharge them.

How? The first step is to snip off the flower stem. Cut the flower stem off down low; as near the base as possible. The reason we do this is to prevent the plant from putting any energy into producing seeds. For the plant, this is their most important goal so they’ll use up a lot of energy to produce seeds. We have no need for the seeds and so, by removing the flower stem where the seeds are forming, we’ll cause the plant to send all that energy back down to the bulb/battery where it’s stored for future use. Make sure that you don’t remove any of the leaves when you’re snipping off the flower stems. Think of the leaves as solar collectors that gather energy from the sun and send it down to the bulb/battery where it’s stored for future use.

The final step is to feed your bulbs/batteries. Get your hands on some gentle, high phosphorus, granular plant food. I like the Espoma brand’s Flower-tone. It’s gentle and I’ll use it not only for the bulbs but all my flowering perennials as well. Poke some holes in the soil with a pipe about as deep as you planted the bulbs, then fill the holes 2/3 up with the Flower-tone. This is where the roots are that will be able to absorb the nutrients. You could scatter the food on the surface and some of it will eventually make it down to the roots but I like to poke the holes so I can get the food where the bulbs/batteries can make the best use of it. Don’t get too close to the stems but insert your food 3” or 4” away. High phosphorus foods will also provide extra energy that your bulbs/batteries will store for future use.

That’s it; just three easy steps to insure that your bulbs/batteries have stored plenty of energy so you’ll have more flowers next year instead of less. 1. Snip off the flower stems. 2. Leave the leaves. 3. Feed them with a gentle, high phosphorus, granular food. After the leaves have turned all yellow it means that they’ve stored as much energy as the bulbs/batteries can hold and it’s O.K. to trim them off as well. If you find the gradually yellowing leaves unattractive, try masking them by planting them among other plants that fill in later. I like to plant daffodils among daylilies (or vice versa). The leaves are a similar shape and, as the daffodils are finishing, the daylilies are just coming into their own.