Thursday 28 May 2015

Caring for your bulbs

Some people buy new bulbs every year, but if you look after them properly, bulbs can last for many years. I have some bulbs which I would particularly like to last for a long time. They are the "Soleil d'Or" Daffodils which I bought in the Isles of Scilly two years ago. They remind me of my family roots - my father was born in Hughtown, St.Mary's.

The first year I grew them, the Soleils d'Or put on a great display, but this year one or two of them did not flower. They produced plenty of leaves but no flowers, a condition known as "blindness". Researching this I found that I had not been treating the bulbs properly after flowering.
When bulbs have finished flowering, there is always that temptation to just cut them down and move onto something else. In my case, the pot in which they have been grown would just get hidden away down the side of the house, where I keep my bags of compost and any stuff that is awaiting disposal. Once this happens, I would forget about the pot altogether and never give it any further care. Is it any wonder that the bulbs did not repay me with another year of good flowers?

THIS, however is Best Practice:-
1. Remove the old flower-heads, and do not let them set seed. Setting seed reduces the vigour of the parent plant.
2. Do not cut off or (worse) tie in knots, the leaves. Let them die down naturally, returning their energy to the bulb.
3. Feed the bulbs a couple of times with a general-purpose fertiliser.
4. Keep the bulbs moist (i.e. water the pots) until the foliage has died down.
5. When the foliage has all gone dry and brown, lift the bulbs, clean them off, and store them somewhere dry, cool and dark until ready to plant them again. (Protect from mice!)

I shall be following this advice myself this year, so I look forward to seeing the results next Spring.


  1. My bulbs are in the ground so get treated just like my other perennials. Most years they get the old flowers cut off. Occasionally life happens and they don't get that treatment. Daffodils in the ground usually come back year after year without trouble even with little care they even get bigger and better every year. Tulips on the other hand tend not to. I don't plant many tulips because of that.

  2. All of my bulbs are in the ground so we just leave them be from year to year. We have several bulbs that have come up consistently each year - namely daffodils, lilies and irises. This is the third year for our tulips and they are still doing well - I think I have about 10 clumps and only one had some "empty" spots with just leaves.

    I have not taken good care of my bulbs up until this year either and generally just leave them to die back when they finish flowering (which in and of itself, is actually a good thing). This time round, however, I did remember to cut off the fading tulip heads so that they didn't go to seed & I will be topping the clumps with some compost once I get another batch.

  3. Those are great looking daffs. Spring bulbs are such a pleasure after the dark, cold winter. Good tips!

  4. One reason that I prefer the mini daffodils in the garden is that the dying foliage makes less of a statement.


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