My numerous daffodils, tulips, etc. are long past their glory days and are lying splayed on the ground in a shade somewhere between healthy green and withering khaki. Gardening wisdom advises us to leave the foliage standing until it has turned yellow. That’s a lot to ask, especially when your bulbs were planted front and center.
Yes, yes, I know, you’re supposed to plant them where they will be hidden under other plants that emerge as the bulbs are fading out . I don’t know about you, but I still notice those fading leaves, even when they are tucked under a newly blossoming plant. And how much sunlight are they actually getting when they are hiding under other plants? What good is that advise anyway, when you’ve also been advised to plant in large swaths?
And despite a certain gardening diva’s recommendation, we have been forbidden from braiding, folding, or otherwise subtly tucking those leaves out of site. As long as they are photosynthesizing, they need every spare inch of leaf exposed to sunlight. Or do they?
Let’s be realistic; most of us don’t bother cutting back the flower stalks as recommended, yet the plants survive. Why can’t we push the envelope on cutting back the leaves?
While it might be ideal – for the plant – to allow the leaves to expire and dissolve on their own, they’ve pretty much done their job within 6 – 8 weeks. I lean toward 8 weeks. Since my daffodils generally bloom in April, by mid-June I don’t feel any guilt or regrets about cutting them down.
If your bulbs were planted in an out of the way spot or if you truly have enough plants to distract the eye, you can save yourself the effort. Lucky you. If not, grab you’re your pruners. Trust me, they’ll be fine. I’ve been doing it for a decade now and they show no signs of slowing down.