Spring bulb beds might need some tender-loving care

If your tulips looked smaller than usual this spring and produced fewer blooms, it may be time to renovate your spring bulb beds.

Early summer is a good time to dig up not only tulips, but daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths that need attention, according to Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Daffodils, tulips, crocuses and other spring bloomers from bulbs make new ones every year, Penhallegon said. "Crowded plants compete for nutrients and water, resulting in fewer and smaller blooms. Spring bulbs will produce bigger flowers if separated, fertilized and given either compost or mulch to the soil."

Dig up your bulbs carefully before the hot summer. Spade right at the edge of the dried-up foliage, lifting whole clumps of soil. Break the clumps apart by hand and pick out the bulbs. Throw away any soft, diseased or insect-damaged bulbs. Then rework the soil to about 12 inches.

Soil beneath the bulbs needs bone meal and a good compost mix or a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-5, which is 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorous and 5 percent potassium. Set aside some of the unfertilized soil to cover the newly located bulbs.

Daffodil and tulip bulbs should be replanted 4 to 5 inches apart and 6 to 7 inches deep. Plant smaller bulbs a little closer and less deep. Water occasionally through the summer to foster the rooting and growth necessary for spring bloom.

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