Warm, bright days with longer daylight hours herald the coming of spring. In no time at all the colorful bloom of tulips, crocus, hyacinth and daffodils, diligently planted in the fall, will show their lovely faces.
To achieve a glorious carpet of color, a gardener begins in the fall preparing the bulb beds to ensure a visual impact. This is achieved by visualizing your bulb bed. What do you want to see? Spring is the season to ensure all the hard work in the fall is protected and continues to give many years of joyful blooms.
This is the time of year to pamper your bulb beds. As the foliage erupts, loosen the soil around it and apply an all purpose crystal fertilizer 5-10-5. It will work its way into the soil by warm spring rains.
In the Kootenays, there is also the challenge of wildlife damaging the tender plants- specifically squirrels, moles and deer. Pest repellants such as hot pepper spray or crushed sea shells around bulbs may have to be used to protect the shoots. Crocus and tulips are especially appealing to pests, where as daffodils have a poisonous nature with a bitter taste.
Hyacinths and double daffodils may be susceptible to wind and rain so staking may be necessary. The use of small stakes, wire rings or green foliage twine will keep the brightly blooming faces smiling.
Bulbs are not blooming! There are a number of reasons this could be happening.
The bulbs may not be getting enough sun, the soil is poorly drained or the bulbs may be too small to produce a flower. If this is the case, bulbs will need to be lifted and relocated to be planted again the following fall.
After the blooms have spent, the stems should be cut off at the base of the plant. If this is not done the seed heads take much needed energy from the bulbs, reducing the bloom for the following year.
The leaves should remain in place until they have turned yellow, and then the dried remnants CUT to ground level. The bulbs need the nutrition produced by the leaves.
A rule of thumb, any foliage still visible at the beginning of July can be removed.
Annuals can be planted among the remains of bulb greens to cover up the drying foliage. Other tricks to enjoying a bulb garden are planting them amongst perennials that will start to come up as the bulb plants start to fade.
Thoughts for the next blooming season must be considered as the current season bloom fades. What will need to be removed, reconsidered or renovated? Because the bulbs are dormant in late summer, this is the time to remove and discard small bulbs, split larger ones and store for the fall planting.
Spring is always a time of renewal and new possibilities. Enjoy the colorful energy a bulb bed will provide.
Betty Drover and Patty Siddall operate a local garden business and will share their expertise in the Trail Times every other Friday. Contact Siddall Drover Garden Services at 250-364-1005