Should I take the old flowers off bulbs when they are done flowering?
Does this strengthen or weaken the bulb?
How can I strengthen these flowering bulbs?
I spent a lot last fall on over 100 tulips and over 100 narcissus…every one flowered. How do I protect the beauty and the investment?
Great question. You can cut the flowers off, (many people grow bulbs to use as cut flowers), however, take care not to cut the leaves. The leaves are essential for harnessing the sunlight and synthesizing it into a food source, which is stored in the bulb ready for next years growth and flowering. Leave the foliage on the plant until it turns yellow (approximately 6 weeks).
Bulbs are heavy feeders, so ensuring they have an adequate nutrient source will help to protect your investment. You can do this by fertilizing the bulbs soon after flowering with 20-20-20 fertilizer and adding well composted organic matter to the bed. After the winter snow melts the compost will release its nutrients into the soil to feed the sprouting bulbs.
If you plant any more bulbs, its a good idea to sprinkle some bulb mycorrhizae into the hole (to improve the root growth), and fertilize them with bulb fertilizer. Below, you’ll find a link to some further reading with some interesting facts on bulb types: