Saturday, May 21, 2011

Foliage Overflow

What do you do with your daffodil foliage once the flowers have stopped blooming?

Every spring my garden is littered with stands of fading foliage that suffocate the surrounding plants. Slumped with fatigue, the long green straps lounge in the branches and stems of their commrades, too tired to move, too weak to care. Neighboring plants, flush with a fresh start, jostle and posture against the declining daffodils, their stems growing sideways, their necks giraffe-long as they stretch towards the sun. By summer when the dried brown daffodil leaves pull easily from the earth, my garden is Seussian in appearance. Stems designed to be straight and tall bend and curve instead, while other plants simply give up and die, crushed by sodden, heavy foliage.

But this year, I decided, would be different.

Daffodils grow in a clump of tradescantia and daylillies next to my balloon flower. Most of the foliage is disguised by the tradescantia and daylillies, but the foliage closest to the balloon flowers had covered them to the point that they were struggling to grow between the leaves.

To get the foliage off the balloon flowers, I  bundled up the leaves and pinned them to the ground using big anchor pins. These are also called landscaping pins and look like giant staples. I found them locally in small packs but they were ridiculously overpriced. I bought a box of 500 online for $40. I also use them to hold my soaker hoses in place.

Dalea pupurea, or prairie clover, grows between pink knautia and a big clump of daffodils. The dalea has thin stems that couldn't push aside the daffodil leaves. After I pinned the daffs and pinched back the dalea, it began to thicken up, although it's difficult to tell in these photos. 

Green bamboo markers remind me of where I planted the dalea. This helped me avoid accidentally grabbing the wrong foliage when I was bundling and pinning the daffs.

 Using twine to shaped the foliage into little cornstalks also works, but it takes longer than using pins. Plus, I think it looks goofy, especially when it's not disguised by other plants.

 These are the anchor pins I use. The sides are several inches long and are very easy to push into the ground, especially if you step on them.


  1. Wow, the pins make a lot of sense. I have to admit I just leave my daff leaves where they are to die back, but it would help the surrounding plants if I would pin them back. I'll have to take a look...

  2. I used to braid them and tuck them underneath whatever plant was nearest. Using the pins to hold them down is a fabulous idea, though!

  3. You could bend wire coat hangers also. They are also called sod staples. I used t sell them wholesale. You should sell your idea to one of those gardening magazines that give out cash rewards like garden gate or fine gardening.

  4. Beth - I bought the pins at Amazon, if you want to give it a try. :o)

    Hanni- I've braided the leaves before and even used a torn leaf to tie off the end but it was really time consuming. Pinning took about 45 seconds per bundle.

    Greggo - That is an awesome idea!! I'm going to check it out!! Thanks!!! :o)

  5. Great idea, totally stealing it ;)

  6. Good idea to stake them. Most of my daffs aren't intermingled with other plants, so I just ignore them as the foliage flops over and splays out and gets slimy and slug-gnawed and slowly yellows and then withers away to a crisp in the mid-summer heat. Yes, as you can tell, I just ignore them.

  7. What a good idea! I also have the foliage of Surprise Lilies that is dying down at the same time.

  8. Blog hopping & just came across your darling gardening blog...I host a garden party on Thursdays & would love to have you link up sometime???? xoxo, tracie

  9. What a quick and useful idea. It seems to me I've seen those pegs before - are they used for tarps and tents also?

  10. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    I do not have so many daffodils or tulips that the foliage is an issue, but can imagine that you are right to want to minimize their impact on the growth of emerging perennials. Pinning appears to me to be a clever idea. I will be curious to read in future posts, if there are any negative affects next years flowers.


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