With a huge sigh of relief, it is finally time to get rid of all that horrible dead foliage: if you haven't already given in to temptation and ripped it out.
Yes, we love the Daffodils, we love them all spring long, but we are well into June, and I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of the foliage flopping about all over the beds, or being asked by Clients if they can't cut them back so they can mow the lawn properly.
However, as everyone knows, if you cut the foliage of bulbs off too soon, they won't be able to build up their reserves for the following year, which means fewer flowers. But how soon is “too soon”?
My personal yard-stick is to wait until foliage is limp and rather yellow-looking, as per the photo above, taken this week - then to tug it gently. If it comes out easily in your hand, then it is time to remove it. (If it has gone slimy and squishy, by the way, then it is overdue for removal!) For the last couple of weeks I have been routinely combing through the daffodils, taking out any foliage which does not put up any resistance, but there has still remained a lot of strong green foliage.
So, what does “one” do when not all the foliage is falling out of the bulbs, but “one” needs to either cut the grass or work on the beds? (Or “one's” Clients are champing at the bit to cut the lawn again?) This applies equally to Tulip foliage, by the way, and Bluebells too.
Well, there are a couple of techniques that can make it easier: for a start, I always tug the leaves out only 3-4 at a time: don't grab a big handful and heave at them, otherwise you may well pull the bulbs out of the ground. It's more like plucking a bird - just a couple at a time, take hold of them as low down as you can, and use a quick short pull - don't pull steadily, as even wilting foliage is still surprisingly strong, and a slow steady pull can lift the bulbs. It's the absolute opposite of weeding, in fact!
If there are a couple of really resistant bulbs, whose leaves are not ready to come out, but if it is already well into June, and I have given them their foliar feed and otherwise done everything possible, I “cheat” and press one hand down on the soil while pulling the foliage off with the other, to keep the bulb in place. There comes a point where you just have to be cruel!
So, with a big sigh of relief, at long last I have been able to remove the dead foliage and oh! how nice it is to see the soil - and the weeds - again!