Garden tip: Fertilize bulbs

Garden tip: Fertilize bulbs Now is a good time to fertilize spring flower bulbs, as well as to get new ideas for spring bulbs to add to your garden, a specialist said.

That's the Garden Line tip of the week from South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension. SDSU Extension produces the Garden Line weekly call-in program on South Dakota Public Television during the late spring and summer months. It airs each Tuesday from April 26 through Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. Call (605) 688-7378 during the program to get your questions to the Garden Line experts.

SDSU Extension Horticulture Specialist Rhoda Burrows said you can get ideas for your own garden by pay ing attention to the spring bulbs in other gardens. Spring crocus, aconite, snowdrops, glory of the snow, Siberian squill (Scilla), and Iris reticulata are among the first to bloom, followed quickly by tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, and others.

"If you didn't just plant them last fall and fertilize them at that time, now's a good time to fertilize," Burrows said. "You want to use a complete fertilizer, something like 10-10-10."

Spring bulb flowers can usually tolerate temperatures down to 28 degrees without damage.

"A lot of times our spring frosts will nip the foliage, but if the flower buds aren't up yet, usually the bulb will go ahead and flower and it won't be a problem. If the flowers are already up, usually we're looking at 26 to 28 degrees that's going to be a problem for frost damage."

You can cut off the flowers as they finish blooming, but allow green leaves to remain so that the plant can restore the bulb's energy for next year, Burrows said. Remove the leaves once they turn yellow.

Tune in each week this summer to Garden Line for answers on other lawn and garden questions.

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