Spring Bulb Aftercare

With our seemingly endless Maine winters, we anxiously await the vibrant colors of spring bulbs. However, most gardeners struggle with the best way to care for them and insure good blooms the following year.

Leave the Foliage!

The chief requirement of all spring bulbs is that their foliage be left intact until it has transferred its energy back to the bulb underground and wither away. Trying to conceal that unsightly foliage is often the hardest part for most gardeners.

The best way around this problem is to interplant large drifts of bulbs with a plant whose foliage will conceal theirs as it grows in. Another option is to plant bulbs in smaller groupings tucked amongst the garden so the dying foliage is not as noticeable.

How Long Will They Last?

Most bulbs are labeled as perennials. For the most part, this is true but some tend to be more perennial than others. For instance, depending on care and variety, tulips can be counted on for only one to two years of bloom. Some gardeners find this frustrating, while others consider it a nudge to experiment with another color scheme.

Bulbs like narcissus come back indefinitely and multiply by division, often outgrowing their place in the garden. These bulbs will ultimately need to be dug up, separated and distributed to friends or other areas, thereby reducing the clump that remains. This type of work is best done after the foliage has faded.

See the list below for an idea of what to expect for certain bulbs.

Multiplying Bulbs
  • Allium
  • Checker Lily (Fritillaria)
  • Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)
  • Crocus
  • Daffodils (Narcissus)
  • Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)
  • Indian Hyacinth (Camassia)
  • Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus)
  • Striped Squill (Puschkinia)
  • Species Tulips (Tulipa spp.)
  • Summer Snowflake (Leucojum)
  • Windflower (Anemone)
Short Lived Bulbs
  • Crown Imperial (Fritillaria) - 1-3 yrs
  • Hyacinth - 2-5 yrs
  • Tulips (Tulipa) - every 1-3 yrs