Playing with spring bulbs

Hello!  For this post I’ll be cleaning up and storing spring bulbs to plant in the fall.  I love bulbs, they multiply and you can just plant them and wait for the show.  Unless some critter decides it needs a meal more than you need a flower, but that’s a discussion for another day.  For the most part, I haven’t been disappointed yet but I’ve also never played with bulbs to this extent before so I hope I do this correctly.  I’ve bought them, planted them and watched them grow but that’s about it.  I’ve never dug, sorted, separated or stored them before.  There is a first time for everything.

Last year Jimmy planted a row of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, they are so pretty when in bloom.  However, after the flowers die, the left over foliage can look rather unkempt but don’t cut it.  I’ll explain why it’s necessary to keep it in place in a moment.  Things like ground covers, ornamental grasses, summer and/or fall bulbs can hide the left overs from spring. We haven’t added anything to the bed yet but we will.  I started some snow in summer seeds a few weeks ago and I plan to plant a few in there, I’m hoping they’ll come up right after the spring flowers fall back.  We’ll have to wait until next spring to find out.

Daffodils in bloom

Daffodils in bloom

Tulips in bloom

Tulips in bloom

Foliage after flowers bloom

I have a great tip for you if you want the flowers without the cost of buying tons of bulbs.  We sort of tripped over this one this year.  Out of all the flowers you see everywhere for sale in the spring, imagine the ones that don’t sell.  What’s happens to them if they don’t sell?  Do they give them back to the growers?  Trash them?  Plant them?  Never thought about those things before now.  We were browsing through the garden center at a local Wal-Mart earlier in spring, like we do everywhere where there is a garden center.  We found in the back corner a bunch of discounted plants no one bought, ones that have already bloomed and looked sort of sad, ones that needed a home.  We bought them all at 25¢ per container, several flats and some had 2 bulbs in them for a total of $9…score!!  Now I know what happens to them.  You can bet I’ll be scouring through every garden center I can think of next year for more deals like that.

Now we have all of these bulbs and I have to do something with them or they’ll just rot sitting in those pots.  I removed all the bulbs from the small pots they were in.  They were still a little wet, I brushed off what dirt I could especially from the roots. I didn’t run them under water to get them sparkling clean, the object at this point is for them to dry.  I left all the foliage in tack, the leaves shouldn’t be cut off until they yellow and now I’ll tell you why.  The leaves feed the bulb so it has energy to grow in the spring, this only applies to the leaves.  The flower will start to seed if it’s not cut before the petals fall off and that process will take the growing energy from the bulb.  So the choices are get the seeds or feed the bulb, I choose to feed the bulb.  I understand that growing a daffodil, tulip, etc. from seed is possible but it’s just a very long, slow process.  Bulbs multiply so there’s really no need to grow from seed except as a challenge.  We take pride in the fact that most everything we grow is from seed but I already have too many long and slow projects going on, I don’t feel the need for another challenge just yet.

After I cleaned them off a little I put newspaper down on a large framed screen that came off an old door.  I love to re-purpose things and it turned out to be perfect for drying bulbs.  I put the bulbs on the newspaper in rows, careful not to have any of them touching another so they don’t grow any mold, I have to try to get something out of all of these.  Then I placed another sheet of newspaper on top to shelter them from any light and put all of this in our basement.  A nice cool, dark and dry place for them to “hang out”.  They’ve been down there for a while now and should be dry.  I’ll cut the leaves and roots off of them and put them in a flat with some vermiculite until I can plant them in the fall.

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Separated bulbs

Tulip bulbs in vermiculite

Tulip bulbs in vermiculite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all the bulbs but some of them have what’s called bulblets, little new bulbs that are growing off of the main bulb.  The bulblets should be left intact with the main bulb while storing them and can be separated as you are planting them.  The picture of the daffodil below has several bulblets that I’ll separate when I plant them.  The bulblets on the tulip bulb are too small to separate, I’ll wait for those to grow where they are for a while before I remove them.  Bulblets mean more flowers without buying more bulbs, fabulous!

 

Daffodil bulb

Daffodil bulb with bulblets

Tulip bulb with bulblets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a few clumps of daffodils that I need to dig up, I’d be willing to bet there are more than a few bulblets to be found there too.  The flowers sometimes need to be dug up and the bulbs separated.  Over time they tend to crowd each other and less flowers are produced.  Only one of the reasons I’m digging them up,  I want to put them in a different place in the fall.  I also have a container full of spring bulbs we bought earlier this year that needs to be taken care of.  I’ll go through the same process with those and the daffodils I’ll be digging up.  I’ll keep you posted as I go along.

I’m going to have tons of bulbs to plant this fall that will hopefully grow into some beautiful flowers next spring.

Thanks for reading!

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