Right after daffodils, tulips and hyacinths have spent their last flower, many homeowners mow the plants down. That’s a bad idea if you want them to flower year after year.
Spring-flowering bulbs need to photosynthesize and produce food in order to enlarge the bulb and set the stage for next year. To do that you need leaves.
“The plants are collecting the groceries for next year’s flower,” said David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension. “The longer we can encourage spring-flowering bulbs to photosynthesize, the better the flowering performance will be next year.”
Some homeowners don’t mow them down but tie them up into little columns.
“You might as well cut them off because only the outer leaves will get sun and the light will be at a very poor angle. Therefore, photosynthesis will be minimal at best,” Trinklein said.
The foliage of spring-flowering bulbs eventually will turn yellow and die back naturally, Trinklein said. These are cool-season plants, so they’ll disappear from the landscape when summer heat arrives. That’s usually late June, if not before. Once the foliage has died back, it can be removed and discarded without harming the bulb.
Rather than cutting them down or tying them up, this is a good time to give them some fertilizer. Trinklein said organic fertilizers, like bone meal, are good choices for bulbs. “They break down slowly and release their nutrients over time. That reduces the risk of ‘burning’ plant roots from excessive fertilizer.”
For more information, see the MU Extension publication “Spring Flowering Bulbs: Daffodils” (G6610), available athttp://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6610.
Story source: David H. Trinklein,