Gardening: What To Do With Spent Bulbs


Cary, NC — It’s spring, the bulbs are sprouting and you finally feel happy to see flowers, and then the blooms pass and you are left with ugly old leaves. What to do?

After the Bulbs Bloom

By now, spring bulbs are in bloom (or even past bloom) including daffodils, crocuses and hyacinth, with more to come as the season warms. But the leaves are not as pretty as the flowers.

One thing NOT to do is cut the leaves off. Bulbs need these dying leaves to feed their blooms for next year.

“But they are ugly,” you say. Unfortunately, that can be true. But there are a couple of tricks to disguise or hide the dying leaves to let you have the best of both worlds, a pretty garden and healthy plants next year.

Braid the Leaves

Some plants like daffodils have very long leaves. I usually grab each plant’s  leaves and divide them into three sections like braiding my daughter’s hair, and literally braid them just like that. Then I bend the braids down toward the ground. As the month wears on the leaves lose their bulk and stiffness and collapse upon themselves. They look tidy and kind of novel when they are first braided and as they die down, they aren’t so noticeable.

Back of the Bed

Try to plant bulbs toward the back of the bed if they are tall like daffodils or lilies. Then plant something in front of them that will sprout up and hide them as the blooms and leaves die back. This will make a nice succession of flowers from back to front in your garden bed.


Hyacinths, tulips and some smaller bulb flowers can be planted among annuals like pansies or begonias which will get bushier as the season progresses and hide your dying vegetation.

Remember: let the leaves of bulb-type plants be allowed to die down naturally. You’ll enjoy your spring bloom for years to come.

Happy gardening!


Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Ian Britton.


The Gardening column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.