To lift or not to lift bulbs?
Ruth explains the pros and cons of lifting spring bulbs
THE spring bulbs have finished their display and died back, leaving tangles of wilted greenery. Deadhead them and leave the foliage to die back completely before removing it.
To give them a boost for next year’s flowers, feed your bulbs fortnightly with liquid tomato feed that contains high levels of potassium. The next thing to do is to decide whether to lift them or leave them in situ. Many varieties are happy to be left alone. Bulbs naturalised in lawns and rockeries or returning each year in borders can be left where they are, as can certain tulips bred for the purpose, such as ‘Negrita’, ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’.
If you do want or need to lift bulbs and keep them in storage until they can be replanted in autumn, carefully bring them from the soil with a garden fork, taking care not to spear them or tear the roots in the process.
Shake or wipe off the soil, discard any that appear soft or rotten, and use your hands to wipe off the thin brown tissue that coves the bulbs. Remove the dead foliage and leave them to dry out on a wire rack for a day or so. If you are worried about keeping them healthy in storage, dust the bulbs with fungicide powder or sulphur and keep them in trays somewhere cool and dark and out of the reach of pests such as mice.
If you have a lot to store, layer them on trays with crunched up balls of newspaper between each one. Label them and check them throughout summer, removing any that start to go bad.
They will then be ready to replant in a few months’ time and herald the arrival of spring early next year.
Feed plants before lifting for better flowers next year Lift container bulbs if you want to use the pot for summer bedding
Always deadhead your bulbs