Why is it that we plant tulips and other spring blooming bulbs in fall, and they come up beautifully the first spring, but by the second spring all you get is foliage and practically no blooms?

Here are a few tips that will help help make sure that your bulbs, even tulips tend to come back for several years in a row.

Firstly: plant tulips and other bulbs deeper in the soil. This only works if you have well drained soil. Plant Empress hybrid or Darwin hybrid tulips 12 inches deep. This keeps the bulbs from dividing. If you have great drainage, these tulips planted this deep will come back every spring for as many as 10 years or more. This can be done with many other kinds of spring blooming bulbs as well.

Fertilize spring blooming bulbs with synthetic bulb food as soon as foliage appears above ground in late winter. Organic bulb food won't work well for this first feeding, so use a synthetic bulb food.

As soon as the bulbs are finished blooming, feed with a good organic bulb food.

You must allow the foliage to die back naturally before removing it.
This allows the foliage to send adequate nutrients to the bulb to allow it to build up strength to re-bloom next spring

With tulips, it's critical to remove the button at the top of the stem where the flower was, but leave the .stem. Don't remove the foliage until it dies back naturally. You don't need to remove the button on the top of daffodils. Just allow the foliage to die back naturally before you remove it.

If your bulbs are located where you water regularly all summer long, you're better off digging them and storing them in your garage for the summer. Regular watering where bulbs are buried causes them to rot.

If any tulip or other spring bulb foliage is contorted or odd looking, dig up and throw away the bulb and foliage. They have a disease that could spread to other bulbs.

Finally squirrels and mice eat tulip bulbs. Wrap the bulbs in chicken wire, plant with chicken grit, or spray hot pepper spray over the spot where the bulbs are buried or directly on the buds when they come up.

With a bit of luck your bulbs will come back for years. If not, buy new ones for planting in fall. A garden just isn't spectacular without spring blooming bulbs!

Gardening with Ciscoe airs every Saturday morning on KING-5.

Read or Share this story: