Perennial bulbs are a reliable addition to the garden, offering the promise of flowers that return year after year. However, for perennials like tulips and daffodils to have the best chance of re-blooming, you need to make sure you care for them properly. This not only means taking care of the plants while they bloom, but also taking care of them once they have died.
Choose the right place to plant bulbs
One of the best ways to ensure that your flowers return annually is to make sure you plant your bulbs in the best spot.
For daffodils, this means choosing an area of your garden that is in full sun or partial shade.
The good news is that they are fairly tolerant flowers and do well in most soil types, as long as they are not too soggy.
For tulips, you may need to choose a slightly sunnier spot. According to experts at Flora Queen, this will “compensate for the weather.”
Experts explained: “There are a few things you can do to further perpetuate your tulips.
“Location is crucial. Choose a sunny area to plant your bulbs and plant them deep (around 10-15cm) to give them a better chance of coming back.”
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Cut the flowers annually after they have finished blooming.
When your daffodils finish blooming, you can pull off the spent flower heads. Longfield Gardens experts say that while “this step is not essential” it will keep “the area clean.”
However, it is essential that you do not touch any of the green foliage surrounding the daffodils, even after the flowers have died.
Longfield Gardens explained: “Daffodil bulbs use their foliage to create the food energy that is required for another year of blooms.
“For this reason, it is important to allow the foliage to continue to grow until it dies naturally.
“Once the leaves are completely loose and yellow, they can be removed with a gentle tug or trimmed down to ground level.”
For tulips, as soon as the petals start to fall off, it’s time to act.
The experts at Flora Queen said: “Cut off dead heads from your tulips to help the plant conserve energy for the winter months.”
However, like daffodils, their foliage must be preserved. Experts at Flora Queen explained: “Don’t cut foliage until it has turned yellow, about a month after flowering.
“If you cut the foliage too early, the bulbs will be weaker the following year.”
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Reduce how often you water your flowers
Although tulips and daffodils need frequent watering during bloom, once their flowers have died, you can cut back.
You should water daffodils liberally while the plant is blooming, but Gardening Know How recommends keeping the soil “relatively dry when the plants are dormant during the summer.”
Likewise, overwatering tulips after they’ve bloomed can weaken the bulbs.
Flora Queen said: “If you see standing water forming in your tulip bed, add something absorbent like bark chips to the soil, or dig up and move them to a slightly drier spot.”
Fertilize your bulbs
You can give daffodils and tulips a little extra pep while making next year’s blooms with a little fertilizer.
Tulips tend to prefer a fall feeding and bone meal fertilizers are recommended.
Daffodils, on the other hand, can benefit from a handful of bulb fertilizer or any general-purpose fertilizer when buds break through the ground in early spring.
Know How Gardening said, “Be sure to fertilize the soil around the daffodil plant, but keep the fertilizer off the foliage.”