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How to Care for Bulb Plants

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How to Care for Bulb Plants

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Overview

Bulb plants refer to those blooms that appear in both the spring and summer. These include daffodils and tulips as heralds of spring before the trees even sprout leaves. Summer bulbs such as dahlia and iris bloom at varying times during the summer to add stunning color and flowers to the landscape. Caring for these very different types of bulbs involves a basic knowledge of how a bulb works. All bulbs function as the home for leaves, stems and flowers. Bulbs contain nutrients and serve as the root base for the plant. Learning how to care for bulb plants involves digging these roots out of the garden when necessary and treating them carefully as delicate future plants.

Step 1

Allow all bulb plants to grow leaves and stems and flower fully. Cut blooms for use in the home or retain these flowers on the plants for beautiful garden accents.

Step 2

Pinch off dead or unsightly flowers using pruning clippers to prevent the flower from forming seeds. Direct energy to the bulb rather than the flower with regular maintenance pruning of dead blooms. Clip the stem right behind the flower and throw the flower away.

Step 3

Let the bulb plant complete its blooming cycle. Do not remove dying foliage from the garden. Allow all leaves and stems to die and yellow naturally. Prune back after all foliage dies to about 2 inches above the garden surface. This will mark the location of the plant for removal and storage.

Step 4

Dig out around the plant about 5 inches to avoid hitting the bulb with the trowel. Scoop the bulb out of the soil carefully and shake off the dirt.

Step 5

Place pieces of newspaper in a cool, dry location. Lay the bulbs in rows on the newspaper, making sure that none touch. Leave the bulbs to dry for at least a week. This drying period prevents rotting from excess moisture during storage.

Step 6

Prepare a box or paper bag with shredded newspaper or dry peat moss. The box should be shallow enough to allow no more than three layers of bulbs.

Step 7

Place the dried bulbs into the storage container and make sure the bulbs don't touch. Tuck extra newspaper or peat moss around the bulbs to prevent damage during moving.

Step 8

Store the box or bag in a cool, dry location for the winter. Temperatures should range between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity should stay low enough to prevent molding or damage to the bulbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning clippers
  • Trowel
  • Newspaper
  • Peat moss
  • Boxes
  • Paper bags

References

  • Cornell University
  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: bulbs, bulb care, caring for bulbs

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.

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