KCB, Reigning Master Gardener of the Year for 2008 and renowned contributor to the Skillin's Garden Log checks in with observations from "what is going on out there":
Tulips and foliage:
Many of the newer, especially the larger variety tulips flower best the first spring. Over time the energy will wane and will only produce foliage. The foliage will continue for many years so it is less frustrating to dig up the old bulbs and start over. Do this in the spring so you will know where the non-performing buggers are. Fertilizing all tulips once or twice a year, in fall or early spring, will encourage them to flower well for several years. It is ok to remove the stalk or ‘deadhead’ but keep foliage until yellowed and browning. If the site of dying foliage is bothersome plant some companion plants to disguise foliage. Other conditions affecting tulips would be over crowding on varieties that naturalize. If this occurs, dig up your tulips just before all the foliage has completely died down and divide by pulling smaller new bulbs from the base of the old bulb and replant them.
Sandy soil is best for Tulips (or any bulb) to increase and flower in later years. Good Drainage is essential. The fact that there is moss overtaking the lawn may mean there is a drainage issue. One final tulip note, at one of my bulb classes someone remarked that they had stalks but no blooms. Sorry to say the bloom was food for a ground hog. The couple lived in the city so the thought of a groundhog was never considered.
Messenger, oh, what can I say. I still use it selectively; mostly for roses and peony. However this spring I had some Heuchera that were suffering from winter damage, rusty leaves and looked rather sad. I cleaned the effected leaves, doused w/messenger per directions. The next visit 2 weeks later I witnessed their transformation. Better looking than the year before. Heuchera has become one of my favorite foliage plants. All the Coral Bells in my gardens will be awarded a Messenger drenching and maintain the treatment through out the season.
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
May 18, 2009