At the moment, gardens will be springing back to life with carpets of snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses. Without doubt, this is a wonderful sight! I do believe that the success of this springtime display really does depend on how you treat the bulbs and corms during after flowering and dormant period, while they rest unseen in the soil.
If you are getting fewer flowers than last year, then it’s time to think about thinning out the over-crowded clumps. Unlike most other bulbs, snowdrops can be lifted when they are still in full leaf. When replanting, remember the snowdrop needs to be given some shade during the hot summer months.
Also, it’s a good idea to mark where you’ve planted clumps, so that you minimize the danger of digging them up when you’re adding other plants into what looks like a ’space’ in the border.
It’s extremely important not to cut off daffodil leaves before they have time to die off naturally. This is Nature’s way of replenishing the store cupboard for the following year’s floral performance. You may see some gardeners valiantly tying leaves into neat bundles but this is also a dreadful thing to do as it cuts off their vital supply of food, and you may as well have used the scissors in the first place! If you missed the autumn planting boat, worry not. Go to your favourite garden centre, buy up some miniature daffodils in pots (such as Tête à Tête) and then plant – pot and all – into the garden or terrace pot.
Crocus corms dislike being in soggy soils, but they do respond well to being planted in warm sunny sites, in open gritty soils. They do well naturalized in lawns, but as leaves need to die back naturally to assist in the development of new corms, this might cause an issue when you start to cut the grass.
Why not pop into Kew Gardens to witness the biggest display of crocuses in the country. In 1988, Reader’s Digest donated 1.5 million corms to Kew, in celebration of the the Digest’s 50th anniversary. Because sparrows have a well-known fondness to ripping gold crocuses to shreds, Kew’s carpet only uses mauve, purple and white.
Food and water
All bulbs need adequate water while in growth, and also for the six weeks after flowering. In late February, apply a high potassium fertilizer to encourage bulbs to flower well in the following season. In containers, use a liquid tomato fertiliser, from early spring until six weeks after flowering.