Bulb aftercare- 4 ways to make sure bulbs reflower next year

Alan Titchmarsh offers tips for planting daffodil bulbs

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Perennial bulbs such as daffodils and crocuses come back every year, you don’t have to replant them. If your perennial bulbs aren’t reflowering, there are a few steps you can take to help them along. Express.co.uk chatted to gardening expert Isobel Spandler from Wiltshire Garden Design to find out the four ways to make sure your bulbs reflower next year.

You can’t just expect bulbs to flower every year if you’re not taking care of them.

Isobel said: “The season for spring bulbs is coming to an end but looking after them does not.

“If you want to guarantee a good display from your bulbs next year, how you treat them after flowering is critical.”

After flowering

Bulb season is ending, and for the next six weeks or so you should be removing the remaining flower heads.

Isobel explained: “Carry on removing the remaining flower heads so that the plant puts its energy back into the bulb and not into forming seeds.

“Then feed with a general fertiliser, which can be sprinkled around the bulbs or, if easier, a high potassium feed such as Tomorite can be watered into pots.

“Leaving the foliage intact will also allow the bulb to absorb energy from the leaves, wait a minimum of six weeks before cutting back the dead foliage.”

During this time continue watering and, crucially, feeding to encourage the development of the flower bud within the bulb for next year.

Isobel added: “If you’re not keen on the messy, yellowing, foliage you can dig up the bulbs and heel into a trench where they are less conspicuous.

“They still need to be fed and watered and remember to label them!”

Lifting and storing

There is little benefit to lifting and storing bulbs unless they are in a container that you need to use for a summer display.

Isobel said: “If that is the case, only lift them once the foliage has died back.

“Clean off the loose soil, trim the roots and remove any outer layers of the bulb tunic that are loose.

“Do not keep any bulbs that are damaged or look diseased and leave those that you are keeping to dry out for 24 hours.

“Store the bulbs in labelled paper bags or nets in a cool, dry place.”

Dividing

Many bulbs benefit from being lifted and divided if they have become congested.

Isobel noted: “It is too late for snowdrops, but other spring bulbs benefit from division.”

The gardening expert said: “Daffodils often thrive for a few years and then the flowers diminish; once flowering is over, dig down carefully, avoiding the foliage, and lift the clump.

“Split and replant at least 18cm deep with compost. Grape hyacinth can also be treated in the same way once the flowers have started to fade.

“Lift the clumps with a spade and lever apart. Replant in smaller groups 10cm deep.”

Planning for next year

The whole point of this process is to ensure your bulbs reflower next year, so plan ahead.

Isobel said: “If you like to plan ahead, many mail-order and online bulb suppliers like Farmer Gracy or Bloms Bulbs will take pre-orders now for delivery this autumn.

“Getting this done early guarantees you’ll get the varieties that you want.”

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