Beyond Basic Care – Potted Flowering Bulbs

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Potted flowering bulbs are a wonderful way to experience the colors and fragrance of spring in any season. You can find daffodil, hyacinth and tulip bulbs throughout the year, already potted, “prefinished”, and in full bloom; ready to use for holiday decor, gift-giving, or to chase away the winter “blahs”.

“Pre-finished” means that the bulbs are placed in coolers to simulate winter conditions. Bulbs need cool winter temperatures to develop flower buds. By putting the bulbs through a planned cold treatment they can be forced into bloom earlier than they would flower in nature.

Hyacinth Bulbs
Once the flowers fade, you have a couple of options. You can dispose of the plant as you would a temporary cut flower arrangement; just toss it in with your compost. Another option is to plant the bulbs outdoors.

Steps to transfer your potted bulbs to the garden:

  1. Once the flowers fade, cut the flower stem off at its base. This will allow all the bulb’s energy to go into growing leaves and nourishing the bulb, instead of letting the flowers go to seed.
  2. Continue watering whenever the top two inches of soil are dry to the touch. The foliage will grow for a while and then eventually start to die back. Once the leaves die down completely, cut them off at the top of the bulb.
  3. Gently remove the bulbs from the soil and store them in a cool, dark place until it’s time to plant them into the ground in autumn.
  4. Spring flowering bulbs are perennial and they should return year after year in regions with at least 12 weeks of steady winter temperatures below 35-40° F.
  5. Be sure to plant in well-drained soil and add a little bone meal to the planting hole. Bone meal is an organic fertilizer that will provide a slow-release of nutrients to the bulb.

Hyacinths and Tulips in the Garden
Those who live in regions with mild winters can pot up bulbs in containers instead of in the ground. Place the entire pot in a cold location, such as a refrigerator, for 12-14 weeks to duplicate the “winter” cold required for the bulbs to bloom again.

Look for an assortment of beautiful flowering bulbs at your local garden center. For even more info on thousands of plants, visit the Plant Library.


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