What To Do With Tulips After They Bloom In The Spring

So what should you do with all of those tulips after they bloom?

The beautiful, sturdy blooms of tulips are one of the earliest signs of spring.

Their bright green foliage shoots through the soil at a time when most of the landscape is both barren and boring.

In a matter of weeks, their colorful blooms burst forth to signal the end of a colorless winter. And the beginning of nature’s re-emergence.

tulips emerging from the ground
Tulips emerging through the ground in early spring. One of the first signs that winter is about to end!

But to keep those tulips blooming year after year, they need to be put to “bed” properly.

And when it comes to tulips and tulip bulb care, performing a few simple tasks after they finish blooming goes a long way towards keeping them healthy and strong for the following spring.

Although it’s not incredibly difficult to do, the process really is extremely vital to keep bulbs strong and healthy.

How To Care For Tulips After They Bloom

Letting Tulips Go To Seed…

Although it can be tempting to simply allow tulips to die off on their own, it can actually hurt the following year’s blooms.

Allowing the spent bloom to remain on tulips forces them to form seed heads.

And although it may sound like a good thing, the process actually robs precious energy from the bulbs below.

tulips after they bloom
How you put tulips to “bed” can greatly effect the quality, size and color of their blooms the following year.

Energy they need to preserve and use the following year to produce more big, bright and beautiful blooms.

But Don’t Just Cut Them Back…

Likewise, it can be tempting to simply cut all of your tulips down to the ground once they bloom.

Unfortunately, this too will have a negative impact on the following year’s blooms.

The stems and foliage of tulips actually provide power back to the bulb as they die off. And cutting them off too early robs the bulbs of the energy they need for the next growing season.

Simple Steps To Success With Tulips After They Bloom

So what is the best way to care for your tulip bulbs after they begin to fade?

The answer lies in a simple, two-step process.

Remove The Flowers First

As the blooms of the tulips slowly fade, begin by first removing only the flower heads.

the spent blooms of a tulip - what to do with tulips after they bloom
As the tulip bloom begins to fade, it is important to remove only the flower head, and not the foliage.

Simply clip the fading blooms off right below the base of the flower.

This keeps the tulip from creating a seed head, but allows the foliage and stems to remain.

Removing The Foliage

After a week or two, the remaining foliage will die back and slowly turn a yellowish / brown color.

As it does, it is then safe to cut the tulips back completely to the ground.

cutting back tulips after they bloom

This gives the bulbs plenty of time to absorb the nutrients back from the decaying foliage, and gets the bulbs ready for next year’ blooms.

Fertilizing

Tulips can actually benefit greatly from a bit of fertilizing in the fall.

A few inches of compost worked in to the top of the soil in early fall encourages strong bulb and root growth the following spring. See : How To Make Great Compost

The nutrients leach down slowly through the soil, giving a balanced boost of nutrients to the bulbs.

early spring flowers
A bit of fertilizer or compost applied in the fall will help to power bulbs the following spring.

Any high-quality balanced all-purpose fertilizer will also work well if compost is not available. See : Jobes Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer

Be careful to work the fertilizer into only the top layer of soil, and not directly near the bulb. Fertilizer applied directly to the bulbs can burn both the bulbs and roots.

Here is to keeping your tulips blooming strong year after year!

This Is My Garden

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