Good Gardening: Tulips And Daffodils

Apr 5, 2017

This is a terrible time to plant tulips or daffodils.  But it is the perfect time to get inspired by a colorful spring spectacle that has it's roots in a fall planting ritual.

Credit John Fischer

A bit about planting later, but first a few things to do this spring that can make next years blooms better, and more prolific.
  In some parts of the country, planting tulips is a semi-annual job. They only last a year or two.  But here in the north-west, plant one tulip, and it will produce bulb-lets that become new flours in a few years.  The twelve tulip bulbs I planted 20 years ago, now produce over a hundred flowers each spring.
  When the tulips are done blooming, leave the foliage alone.  Period.  You want the energy the green leaves produce to go into the plants, and you want the decomposing leaves to put their nutrients back into the ground for next year.
  Now for some controversy.  Cut off, or leave on seed pods.  Most sources say cut the pods as soon as the petals fall off the blooms.  The idea is to get energy to the bulb, not to the seeds.  Sometimes I cut the seed pods, sometimes I forget. I'll start an experiment this spring leaving one section, cutting another.  Remind me to give you results in 10 years.
  Daffodils are even easier.  Plant, enjoy, ignore.  If you want to expand the clumps of daffodils you have now, dig them up after the leaves are brown,  and replant the individual bulbs where you want new clumps to form.
  OK, let's pretend it's fall- for just a minute.    You dug up a few tulip bulbs in early summer and split split the bulblets off and stored them until October.  You can replant them with better spacing in the fall. Dig holes or a trench six or eight inches deep put in a little bone meal, cover the bulbs, and get ready for a population explosion.
  I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.