Do Tulips Need to Be Cut Back When Done Blooming?

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Tulips can thrive for many years with proper care.

Tulips are a welcome sight after a long winter. The large, colorful blooms make a bold statement in any garden. By the time tulips are done blooming, many gardeners are ready to plant summer flowers and often make the mistake of cutting tulips back too early. With attentive after-bloom care, your tulips can bring that fresh, bold color to your garden year after year.


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After tulips are done blooming, only the flower and flower stalk should be removed. You can do this with a sharp, clean pair of pruners or scissors. Leave the foliage on until it naturally dies back. This is the key to "recharging" your bulbs. The leaves will photosynthesize and transport the precious carbohydrates to the bulb for storage for next year's bloom. Do not braid or tie up the leaves. This can reduce the leaf surface exposed to the sun, reducing the amount of food your tulips need to perform well next spring.


Watering Tulips After They Bloom

Tulips require adequate water during the fall and spring seasons, when growth is the most active. When your tulips are done blooming, watering should be reduced significantly. Do not let the soil become overly dry, but overwatering after your tulips are done blooming can cause your bulb to rot and disintegrate. Reducing your watering after bloom will prepare the bulbs for an extended rest period over the summer.

Fertilizing Tulips

Tulips come in many colors, shapes and sizes.

Tulips respond best to applications of fertilizer when they are planted and during spring growth. A balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, would be adequate. Tulips also like bone meal, an organic fertilizer made from the byproducts of animal production. Bone meal is a natural source of phosphorus, a nutrient essential in the development of flowers. Bone meal needs to be worked into the soil prior to planting. If applied after plants are established, try to scratch it into the top few inches of soil and water thoroughly.


Mark the Spots

When your tulips are in bloom, mark the spot to keep track of where your bulbs are planted and what colors are growing where. It is easy to forget the location of these precious underground bulbs when you are digging and planting other plants during the year. The markers can be anything from colored golf tees, to plastic plant markers, to Popsicle sticks labeled with permanent marker. Keeping track of where your bulbs are will help prevent you from damaging them later in the season.