Bright yellow daffodils, colorful tulips and fragrant hyacinths light up our spring gardens. Give them the care they need to expand their spring display and keep them coming back for years to come.
Hybrid tulips and hyacinths are short-lived stars of the spring garden. They bloom profusely in the first spring, but the number of flowers decreases every year. You may want to treat these like annuals and carefully remove them from the garden to avoid damaging the remaining plants. Throw these in the compost heap and plan to replace them. It’s a great opportunity to try something new and freshen up the look of your spring garden. If you’re looking for a permanent replacement, consider using varieties of tulips that are less blooming but come back every year.
Add a few years to the life of hybrid tulips and daffodils and, with proper care, get the most out of all of your long-lasting spring bulbs. Water the spring gardens thoroughly when the top few inches of the soil are crumbly and only slightly damp. Spring rains often do this job, but when they don’t, it’s easy to forget to provide the spring gardens with the water they need. Providing the right amount of water when you need it will keep your lightbulbs looking great.
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Onions often receive adequate nutrients at the time of planting or when the other plants in the garden are being fertilized. If necessary, apply fertilizer to established onion plantings as the leaves emerge from the ground. Use a low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer to encourage slow, steady growth. Follow the directions on the label so that you apply the recommended amount for the area you are fertilizing.
Remove used flowers on tulips and hyacinths that you want to keep so that the energy can be directed back into the bulbs rather than planting seeds. Do the same if you want to improve the appearance of daffodils. Leave allium seed heads in place to extend their lovely contribution to the garden. Remove these before they drop their seeds if you want to limit the number of seedlings that will sprout in the garden for the next year. The same goes for grape hyacinths and squills. The only reason to remove their faded flowers is to slow the spread.
Leave the leaves on your bulbs until they are naturally yellow and dry. The leaves produce energy that is needed for beautiful blooms next spring. The longer you leave the leaves intact, the more energy and better flowering for the next season.
Hide the falling onion leaves by planting annuals between the bulbs. Or add perennial flowers that return every year for a more permanent solution. As the bulbs wane, the perennials grow, masking the declining foliage. Try mixing spring-flowering perennials to double the effect, or pair them with summer and fall bloomers to lengthen the flower show.
Snap some photos of your green onion display and make notes of the areas where you want to add some color. Then order early to make the best choices and make sure you’re ready for next fall’s onion planting season.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts the DVD series “How to Grow Anything” from The Great Courses and the nationally syndicated television and radio program Melindas Garden Moment. Myers is also a columnist and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her website is www.MelindaMyers.com.