Can these daffodils be saved?

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

April 01, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Our dependable daffodils came up lush last year, then failed to deliver any flowers. We may have applied a high-nitrogen fertilizer the preceding fall. Can we get our beautiful flowers back? Excessive nitrogen encourages foliar growth at the expense of root (bulb) or bud formation. Its effects should dissipate by this spring. Because you've had the bulbs for several years, overcrowding is also a strong possibility. If they fail to flower well this spring, divide them when their foliage dies back, or in the fall. Remember that too much shade or cutting off bulb foliage while it's still green will inhibit flowering.

Blasting is when blossoms form but do not open normally, or at all. Cause is uncertain but can be linked to too much moisture in fall, insufficient moisture, or a late freeze. Some varieties are more prone to this than others.

Should I sterilize potting soil from last year's containers and, if so, how? You can reuse the potting soil without sterilizing it as long as plants grew well last year -- no diseases that caused plants to keel over. Last year's potting soil will have lost most of its nutrients, so be sure to add fertilizer before planting. It's also a good practice to blend soilless potting mixes with high-quality compost. At the end of the season, store your potting soil in plastic bags or trash cans.

Checklist

Remove the silken webs of the eastern tent caterpillar from wild cherry and crabapple trees. Infested branches can also be pruned out.

Work well-rotted manure or compost into vegetable and flower beds. Never add fresh manure to vegetable beds in the spring.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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