Monday, May 01, 2006

FOLIAGE ON BULBS

I’ve had a number of questions about what to do with the leaves once the daffodils and other bulbs have bloomed. Should they be cut back? Should they be left on forever? Let’s think about that.
Bulbs are under the ground where they have no nutritional support except their roots and leaves. The roots can get a lot of nutrients, but get NO benefit from the sun, or chlorophyll, etc. SOOOO….
NEVER cut back the foliage on your bulbs! This is one of the reasons it is often suggested that you plant bulbs in amongst your perennials, or pachysandra, or other ground covers. That way when the bulbs are done blooming, the other plants send up foliage that covers up the dying leaves left over from your daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, etc.
Anyway, once the leaves have turned brown it’s safe to remove them by cutting. I wouldn’t pull them because you might damage the bulb. At this time, I would suggest you might think about scratching in a little Bulb Booster or other bulb fertilizer. It will make a heap of difference.
If you'd like to learn a little more about bulbs and their care try visiting this site posted by the University of Illinois.
How is YOUR garden coming? All I have up are a few daffodils and pearl hyacinths. I’m being patient!
Don’t be like the lady I just heard of up here in zone ¾ who planted her tomato plants in the open ground. They will be gone soon! It’s too cold. They weren’t kidding when they said the North Country Planting Season is from Memorial Day until Labor Day! Woe is me!

3 Comments:

At May 03, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

Some bulb foliage can be braided to lay out of sight and still soak up the sun. My gardens this year include a dying Japanese maple (some kind of fungus the tree guy said), a dead weeping blue atlas cedar planted 2 years ago and done in by drought last year, in spite of the many many dollars worth of water I poured on the gardens, and a Norway maple also planted 2 years ago that has a sun burn but should recover, according to the tree guy. Fortunately, just about everything else is growing great. Forsythia is beginning to leave while the lilacs put on their finery, irises are beginning to bud, lily foliage is poking up, and the assorted bushes rounding out with bloom and leaf. I love this time of year in New England!

 
At May 03, 2006, Blogger North Country Maturing Gardener said...

Hi Chris,
You are definitely right. For the vast majority of gardeners however, they will not take (or don't have) the time to braid foliage, so although it's a great suggestion, it's not one I would suggest right up front! :-)
We were in CT this weekend and it sounds like you may actually be there. The gardening colors were magnificent! Up here in my northern NH garden however, my lilacs don't even have leaves yet! :-(

 
At May 03, 2006, Anonymous Gabrielle said...

My mother used to tie the leaves into a loose overhand knot to keep them out of the way so whe could weed around them. Same principle, but faster than braiding. Interplanting with perennials whose foliage dies back every year (hosta, bleeding heart etc) does a good job at hiding the scraggly leaves and come out as the bulbs are fading, right about now in my part of the world.

 

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