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We wait for those tell-tale signs that spring is truly here – little green sprouts through the snow or mulch. Instead of hearing a a hallelujah chorus that winter is over, we should be hearing little dinner bells.
Those tiny spikes of spring flowers tell us it’s time to fertilize them.
[pullquote]Bulbs need nitrogen every year[/pullquote]Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension tells us bulbs need nitrogen every year, and that’s what they’ll get from a traditional application of blood meal (1 teaspoon per square foot). “You can’t go too far wrong, though, with a nitrogen-rich lawn fertilizer. Those formulations have a large first number on the bag, such as 27-3-3 or 30-3-3,” the Upham said. “Don’t apply it at the rate recommended for lawns, though. Cut that rate by a third to about 1 pound per 100 square feet.”
When their foliage first pokes into sight, the bulbs’ roots have awakened from winter and are hard at work. By the time the plants start blooming, those same roots will be dying. The bulbs won’ t put out new roots until fall. “So if you miss early spring you’ll be better off waiting until fall,” Upham said, “which also a good time to fertilize.”
[pullquote]Let the foliage die naturally[/pullquote]”After the bulbs bloom the only other thing you’ll have to remember is to leave the plants’ foliage attached until it dies naturally. As the foliage turns brown, the plants will transfer the leaves’ energy down to their bulb. That energy will also help with next year’s blooms,” Upham explained.
K-State Research and Extension
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