Removing and replacing spring-flowering bulbs

Lee Rouse  |  4/27/2018 3:15:10 PM

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You have most likely been able to get all of the enjoyment you can muster out of your spring-flowering bulbs. The foliage of the spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinth, is beginning to turn yellow and brown and looking a little ratty in the landscape. Late April to early May is a great time to lift or dig these spring-flowering bulbs from the garden where possible.

If bulbs happen to be growing in the lawn or close to tree or shrubs, consider leaving them in the landscape to go dormant naturally. It’s not worth disturbing the root system of other plants in order to properly store these bulbs. Otherwise, if you are able to lift or dig these out, here are a few tips get the best results for the following year’s blooms.

First, you will need to dig the bulbs out of the ground. One great way to insure you want damage any of these bulbs is to use a garden fork. This help loosen the soil but won’t sever any roots or worse, accidently cut any bulbs in half when you stick a shovel blade in the soil.

Next, be sure to knock away any loose soil that is attached to the bulbs. But whatever you do, do not wash these bulbs. The extra and unnecessary water can lead these bulbs to rot. Cut off any foliage and roots of the bulbs, leaving only the bulb itself. Find a cool, dry, dark place for these bulbs to be stored temporarily, but not the refrigerator yet. The spring bulbs will need to sit out for 48 to 72 hours to dry slightly before storing in the refrigerator. A wire rack or shelf is the optimum place to store them. Otherwise, any shelf in the garage or closet in the home is an excellent temporary spot for these bulbs. Be sure to lay the bulbs out in a way that ensures they will not be touching one another. You want to keep excellent air circulation between all bulbs at this stage.

After drying for a few days, you can pack these bulbs up for the summer and fall growing season. Brown paper bags work great for storing. Next time you are out making groceries, ask for paper instead of plastic. This way, you won’t have to make any unnecessary purchases. These bulbs will need to stay in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks at least for proper flower development next year. You will have more than enough chill time from now until next planting. Plant the bulbs in late December to early January for a beautiful spring planting.

Removing the bulbs can leave you will a bare area of the garden. There are many options in south Louisiana to fill this unoccupied section of garden. In fact there are far too many to list, but here are a few of my favorites.

Vinca, or periwinkle, is always a great choice to add to the summer landscape. There are new and improve varieties on the market these days that have a higher disease resistance, along with larger and longer-lasting flowers. Most vinca are an upright-growing summer annual, but there are a few spreading varieties, such as the Mediterranean variety, that will look great spilling over the edge of pot. They are an excellent replacement for bulbs that were grown in pots.

The Kauai Torenia, also called wishbone flower, is fast and easy way to add a spectacular pop of color in the landscape. Torenia is a warm-season bedding plant that can perform excellent in shade to part sun. Be sure to give this plants enough room to spread to grow to its full size, typically 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide. Planting these about 10 inches apart will give you a colorful blanket of flower by summer.

Vinca, and Torenia, along with many other annuals, come in a variety of colors and sometime even mixes of colors. But for large bold statement in the landscape, choose one color to plant. Sticking with one color in an area will draw the eye and create cohesion in your annual planting area that a mix of colors otherwise could not.

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