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When Spring Flowers Die

Daffodils and tulips are sure signs of spring. But the flowers don't last long, so what do you do with all those green leaves that are left?

The Early Show's favorite gardener, Charlie Dimmock, has some advice about caring for the plants after they flower.

She also has some thoughts on bulbs you can plant now and enjoy over the summer.

Once the daffodil flowers go crunchy, Dimmock suggests, "pinch the whole flower head off (leaving just the green stems). That's called deadheading. …What you want to do is let the bulbs, the leaves, feed.

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"You've got to leave the leaves on for at least six weeks. But people think it's messy. So they get all the leaves and either tie them in a knot or use an elastic band to (tie them up) so it looks tidy.

"That's wrong, because those leaves have got to feed the bulb for next year's flowers. So if you do that, it can't feed properly."

So, wondered co-anchor Rene Syler, what are you supposed to do? Just grin and bear it?

"The good thing to do is plant them in containers," Dimmock pointed out, "so you can literally pull the pots out, (put them) somewhere over at the edge of the garden so the bulb leaves can feed, and replace (the pot) with something else."

As for tulips, Dimmock says it's best to take them out of the ground once they're done flowering: "It depends on your soil. But most people's soil is too heavy, and they just rot away over the winter. So your best thing is, once they finish flowering and the leaves start to die off, dig them up and then knock off all the soil and just keep them in the garage or the basement or something like that. …Put them in a container or bag, down in the basement, where they won't get really hot or really cold."

Even though each bulb flower probably only lasts about three weeks, "they look spectacular," Dimmock exclaimed.

What about hyacinths? They display "lots of different colors," Dimmock notes. "Traditionally blue, but white, pink, across the spectrum.

"They have a glorious scent. Don't plant them somewhere that's really windy, because all the scent blows away into the neighbor's garden or down the street. You want them near the back door or somewhere that's not too breezy. And you can sometimes give them like a present in a pot, the indoor ones. They can go outdoors as well, so you can plant them out after they finish flowering."

Dimmock says now is the time to plant summer bulbs: "The thing with gardening is, if you don't start things ahead of time, you miss out. So summer bulbs – things like your lilies and irises -- it's time to plant them either in a container or dig a hole. You need to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of your hole so that the bulb doesn't rot. And then plant your bulbs, tip up."

While it's often hard to tell which end is up, you have to make sure "you've got them the right way up. And, if you have problems with things like squirrels eating them, use some repellant over the top. That should put them off. On top of the bulbs, and on top of the soil."

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