Gardening Tips and Highlights Waushara County Master Gardeners

Caring for bulbs after bloom

by Christine Yesko


A few late tulips and daffodils are still blooming, but many spring-blooming bulbs are past their prime now. If you are wondering how you care for bulbs after bloom, here are some tips:

Deadhead: Unless you are planning to harvest seed or you want the bulbs to naturalize and spread in an area, start by removing the spent blooms. Deadheading will prevent the plant from putting its energy into creating seeds. It will also give the area a slightly neater look.

Leave the foliage standing: While you don’t want the bulbs to create seeds, you do want them to recharge so they can bloom again next year. Leave the foliage of the bulb up to gather energy until it naturally fades. It won’t look super pretty, but so many other things are blooming and growing in early June, you probably won’t notice a little yellowing bulb foliage. If it really bothers you, you can cut the top part of the foliage off, leaving a few inches of green to gather energy.

Don’t fertilize yet: There’s no need to fertilize bulbs after bloom. However, bulbs are heavy feeders, so adding a balanced fertilizer to the soil in fall is a good idea. Take a photo of your bulbs now, so you know where to fertilize later. You can also add a water-soluble fertilizer to the bulbs just after the foliage pokes through the soil in spring.

Plant bulbs in good drainage: Bulbs are just-right plants-they don’t like it if things get too dry or too wet. If your bulbs are in flower beds with other blooming plants, you’ll likely water them enough through the summer for them to grow well the next year. Bulbs in very dry spots may dry out and those in boggy areas are likely to rot in the ground.

Think about where to plant more bulbs: Keep that picture you took earlier handy for the fall to help you decide where to plant more bulbs next year. Spring blooming bulbs are planted in the fall, usually in late September or early October, up until the ground freezes.


There are many bulbs to choose from, so add something different to your garden and plant bulbs.