Bulbs are slowly making their appearance once again in the Hudson Valley. While beautiful and fresh flowers can be the pride of your garden, having them look terrible is important, too.

Bears are emerging from their dens, peregrine falcons are laying their eggs, and daffodils are leading the charge in the garden, announcing spring with their bright yellow trumpets. One of the most important methods to keep them healthy, though, begins when they start to die back.

Pezibear via Canva
Pezibear via Canva

Growing Daffodils in New York

"Don't touch the daffodils!", came the recent warning from garden experts. The explanation has more to do with next year's flowers, rather than the ones currently flowering in our yards. From the MSU Extension Service:

For a few short weeks, daffodils grace the planet with their beauty and remind us of warm weather right around the corner... but when they start to fray, their foliage begins to look quite ratty. It’s tempting to prune back the frayed daffodil plants... However, it’s recommended to leave them be

Why It's Good for Daffodils to Look Bad

This is because the wilting leaves are actually serving a very important service to next generation of daffodils. "The leaves gather sunlight to make food that is stored in the bulb. This helps the flowers bloom the following year", the garden extension explains. So when can New York gardens finally tidy up their garden beds?

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It's recommended for the leaves to remain attached to the withering plant for at least six weeks. This allows enough time for 2024's bulbs to be adequately fed before the foliage should be removed. When it's time, experts recommend hand-picking the dying leaves. A general rule of thumb to follow is to look for yellowing leaves that are easy to pull. "If the leaves pull off easy, then they’re ready to be removed", the garden extension asserts. Check out more garden tips below.

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