With the exception of snowdrops spring bulbs can be lifted and stored to allow your garden planters to be re-planted for the summer.
Nourishing foliage: Once your bulbs have finished flowering, remove the faded blooms to prevent seeds from forming, which exhausts the bulbs. Don't remove any foliage, as the bulbs need their leaves to restore their strength for flowering in the following year. You can help them by watering regularly and feeding with bone meal or organic fertiliser to provide the necessary nutrients.
- While the foliage is still green, it is a good time to dig up and divide dense clumps of small bulbs such as anemones, winter aconites, crocus and snowdrops.
- Only once the foliage has become yellow and dry should you cut it. Trim close to the ground, and mark out where the bulbs are so that you don't accidentally disturb them when seeding or digging the garden.
Prevent dryness: Water narcissus and wild daffodil bulbs during the autumn if it is very dry. The flower buds are formed during this period and a lack of water will dim the beauty of their springtime show.
Keeping disease at bay: A light sprinkling of flowers of sulphur before the summer rest period will protect your bulbs from disease and mould. You can also use it before planting - put the bulbs in a paper bag with the powder and shake vigorously. You should be able to buy flowers of sulphur from garden centres and chemists.
Summer hibernation: If you prefer to remove bulbs once their flowers have faded to avoid the sight of yellowing foliage, lift them carefully with a fork, keeping the soil around the bulb.
- Dig a trench in a semi shaded little-used corner of your garden and put a plastic net or wire mesh at the bottom, letting it overlap the ends of the trench.
- Set the bulbs in the trench and cover with soil, leaving the foliage exposed.
- Water thoroughly during dry spells. Once the foliage has shrivelled and faded, the bulbs can be lifted for storing. Simply pull out the net, shake off the soil and remove the dead leaves.
- Dry the cleaned bulbs in a well-ventilated place for a few days, then place them, uncovered, on a bed of sand in shallow boxes.
- Store them in a dry, dark and cool room or garage until replanting in autumn. Never store bulbs that are damp or have dead or damaged skins.
Beware of rodents: If you are worried that your stored-away bulbs will be attacked by rodents, place the bulbs in old tights or stockings with some dry sand. Rats and mice hate synthetic fibre and are unlikely to attempt to nibble through it. Even so, check the bulbs regularly and remove any that show the slightest signs of rot or damage.
A water-free diet for your tulips: Originally from mountainous regions of the Middle East, tulips like hot, dry summers in well-drained soil. These are difficult conditions to provide in mixed beds, so it is best to lift them as soon as the foliage has yellowed and store them in a warm, dry place all summer before planting out again in the autumn. To avoid this time-consuming chore, plant them under fruit trees, which dry out the soil in summer.
.After the foliage has dried completely, dig up the bulbs and place them on a layer of dry sand in a crate.
.Cover the bulbs with another layer of sand until only their tips are showing.
Space them out well to ensure none are touching and sprinkle them evenly with flowers of sulphur.
.When the bulbs are covered up to their tips, store them in a dark, cool, dry place, safe from rodents.
Rich, glossy hyacinth bulbs are treated with a chemical which can irritate the skin. Always wear gloves when you handle them.