No need to wait for bulbs to totally die back




I would like to plant annual flowers between my daffodils and tulips. Will that damage my bulbs? Can I cut the leaves off my bulbs now that they are through blooming? I want to move some of my bulbs. When can I do that?

Left over leaves of spring flowering bulbs can become quite straggly until they finally turn brown. However, those leaves are producing food and sending it down to produce new bulbs for next year. You do not need to leave them until they turn completely brown. Some gardeners cut off the tips of bulb leaves and then bend clusters of leaves and place a rubber band around them. I usually cut bulb leaves back to about one half when the tips of the leaves turn brown.

You can also move bulbs as soon as the leaf tips turn brown. If you wait until the leaves are completely gone it will be difficult to locate them. Bulbs do not need to be stored. They can be immediately replanted in the same or a different location.

I have planted annual flowers such as marigolds, verbena, petunia and alyssum between my bulbs for years. I have also planted short ground covers over bulbs. Ajuga, lamium and thyme are good choices to plant over or between bulbs. I have also planted perennial flowers between bulbs or vice versa. Since the bulbs become dormant shortly after they bloom, there is very limited competition between them and other flowers.

Keep ahead of weeds

We hardly get our flowers and vegetables planted until weeds start to pop up everywhere. Weeds are much easier to control when they are small. One chop with a hoe will remove a dozen small weeds. It takes more time to remove a single large weed later.

My favorite time to weed is early in the morning before work or other daily activities. It is cool and quiet and I can observe the growth and development of my flowers and vegetables. I can weed my whole yard in 5 or 6 to 15 minute sessions. That is much more enjoyable than one 2 or 3 hour session on a hot Saturday afternoon.

If I need to weed in the afternoon, I pick shady areas under trees or on the north and east sides of the house or fence. I try to do the hotter south and west sides in the morning.

Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. Email Allen Wilson at