At this time of year the whole world seems to come to life. Daffodils and tulips are blooming, along with the flowering trees. Grass is greening again.
The spring flowers such as daffodils and crocuses grow from underground bulbs and corms that are planted in the fall. Their roots grow over the winter and they are ready to pop up – seemingly from nowhere – as soon as spring comes, or even before.
The flowers we see today are using the food that the leaves stored in the bulbs last year. To have good flowers next year, you need to let the leaves do their job and grow until they die down naturally, typically in late June (for daffodils) They will get shabby before they die back, but If you cut them back before they are finished growing then next year’s flowers won’t be as generous.
One tactic for minimizing the “ugly time” of the daffodils is to plant them with perennials (flowers that die down in the winter and come back in the spring) that come up later and hide the shabby daffodil foliage. Daylilies work especially well for this purpose. If you plant a daylily next to a group of daffodil bulbs (not on top of them) then by June the daylily will be vigorous; it will bloom during the summer. You get two for one in the same space and hide the dying daffodil foliage. And before the bulbs have all died back, mark them! It’s very discouraging to start digging a hole for a plant and discover you’ve sliced a daffodil bulb in half.
Now, when the bulbs are blooming, look around your yard to see where you wish you had more,mark the spot, and then plant some in the fall. These aren’t plants for immediate gratification, but they pay you back generously for years and years.
By guest blogger, Jessica Milstead
Jessica has been a Charles County Master Gardener since 2002 and is certified to evaluate gardens and landscapes for their adherence to Bay-Wise principles.
Photo by Tory Pugliese, Pugliese Photography