With care, spring bulbs might bloom again next year

With care, spring bulbs might bloom again next year

I can’t resist the temptation to buy those beautiful “about to flower” bulbs in the nurseries and big box stores this time of year. Can you? They tease us with such a variety of colors and flowers and fragrances that it is almost impossible to say no.

Most all of these bulbs have been “forced” to bloom, and are called “winter forced.” Some of them bloom indoors for us and nowhere else. But lately I’ve had some luck with transplanting those bulbs to an outdoor spot. What do you have to lose?

By following a few simple steps and with a little luck, your bulb plant will be successful outdoors the next spring. At the far right, you can see the surprise hyacinth that popped up this week in my garden from one bulb that I transferred out to a garden bed last spring. What a great surprise!

Some people enjoy forcing flowering bulbs in containers to bloom in the late winter. You can only force this blooming once, but follow some simple guidelines and your bulb may re-bloom for you outside next year. Step one: Be sure to sprinkle a little bulb-boosting fertilizer on the top of the soil as you are planting. The forced bulbs may never bloom quite as large as the first time because they used up a lot of their energy the first time around.

Some bulbs are better at re-blooming outside for you the second year, according to an interesting article by Sandy Feather of Penn State Extension. Hyacinth, crocus, snowdrops and daffodils are usually good sports and will give you new blooms. Tulips are not likely to re-bloom, but you can even try them. Why not?

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Feather suggests that before you plant your bulb outdoors, remove the spent flower stalks once they are finished booming. Be careful not to damage the foliage in the process. It’s important to keep the foliage growing well as long as possible after your bulbs finish blooming. The foliage is responsible for producing the carbohydrate reserves that nourish the bulbs through photosynthesis. Place the containers from indoors in a cool, sunny spot outside and fertilize them with a water-soluble fertilizer like Miracle-Gro or fish emulsion. When the foliage dies down, discard any bulbs that are soft and plant those that are firm and healthy out into your garden.