To lift or not to lift bulbs?

Ruth ex­plains the pros and cons of lift­ing spring bulbs

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening Week -

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

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