Use math to spread flowers

Fall is the perfect time to share the love of flower power with neighbors, friends and family, says David Trinklein, with the University of Missouri.

As spring-flowering bulbs such as tulip and narcissus grow, they produce offshoots adjacent to the original bulb. When these bulb clusters become overgrown, flower numbers usually decline. This is a good indication it is time to rejuvenate the bulb cluster by dividing it, Trinklein said. After lifting the bulb cluster carefully and dividing it, you can move extra bulbs to new locations
or share with others. It is a great way to improve the neighborhood, make new friends and reduce the cost of having a beautiful yard, he said.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs by the end of October. Soil is still warm enough for bulbs to establish good root systems before winter.

Plant in well-drained soils. Most bulbs benefit from a fertilizer with a
nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 1:2:2 (such as 5-10-10) or 1:3:3. Avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, which can lead to bulb rot. Some gardeners prefer bone meal, but it can attract digging animals. Manure is not a good choice unless it is well aged.

Nothing says spring like the sunny-faced daffodil. With adequate drainage, daffodils thrive for years in most Mid-South soils.

Known for their vigor, daffodils need at least five hours of sunlight daily.

Space 6-12 inches apart, depending upon the cultivar and desired effect. Plant so the base of the bulb is about 6 inches below the soil surface. In lighter soils, this can be 8 inches. If dry, water the bulbs after planting and throughout the fall. Apply a mulch.

Properly spaced bulbs need to be divided every five to 10 years or when flowers become smaller. Dig a clump of bulbs when foliage dies back but is still visible. After bulbs are dry, remove offsets from the parent bulb and store in a dry, cool location with good air movement. Replant in October.

For your best garden remember the math: When bulbs multiply, it’s time to divide!


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