Now's the time to dig up spring flowering bulbs so they'll be ready to go back in the ground later this year.

The foliage of spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, is beginning to turn yellow and brown and looking a little ratty in the landscape. So now is a good time to dig them up.

Here's some tips to extricate the bulbs and get the best results for next year’s blooms:

If bulbs are growing in the lawn or close to tree or shrubs, consider leaving them to go dormant naturally. It’s not worth disturbing the root system of other plants to retrieve these bulbs.

To insure you don't damage the bulbs when digging them up, use a garden fork. It will help loosen the soil but won’t sever any roots or cut any bulbs in half, which could happen when you use a shovel.

Once a bulb is above ground, knock off any loose soil, but do not wash them. Water can cause bulbs to rot. Cut off any foliage and roots on the bulbs.

Find a cool, dry, dark place to store the bulbs temporarily, but not the refrigerator — not yet. Spring bulbs need to sit out for 48 to 72 hours to dry slightly before storing them in the refrigerator. A wire rack or shelf is the optimum place to store them, but any shelf in the garage or closet in your home is a good temporary spot. Lay the bulbs out so they are not touching one another. You want to keep the air circulating between all bulbs.

After drying for a few days, pack up the bulbs. Brown paper bags work great for storing. The bulbs will need to stay in the refrigerator for at least six to eight weeks for proper flower development next year.

Plant the bulbs in late December to early January for a beautiful spring show.

Once the bulbs are removed from the garden, you may have a few blank spaces in your yard. To fill them, try vinca or periwinkle. There are new and improved varieties on the market that are more disease resistant and have larger and longer-lasting flowers. Most vinca grow upright, but there are a few spreading varieties, such as the Mediterranean variety, that will look great spilling over the edge of pot. They make an excellent replacement for bulbs that were grown in pots.

The Kauai Torenia, also called wishbone flower, is a fast and easy way to add a spectacular pop of color to your landscape. Torenia is a warm-season bedding plant that performs well in shade to part sun. Be sure to give this plant enough room to grow to its full size, typically 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide. Planting these about 10 inches apart will give you a colorful blanket of flowers by summer.

Vinca and Torenia, along with many other annuals, come in a variety of colors and sometime even mixes of colors. For a bold statement in the landscape, choose just one color, which will draw the eye and create cohesion in your landscape.

Got a question?

Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.