How to care for tulips

How to care for tulips

The beginning of spring means an abundance of beautiful flowers, especially colorful tulips that appear everywhere from gardens and parks to flower shops and grocery stores. If you’re looking to take advantage of peak tulip season or want to get ahead of next year’s crop, take note of these tips for caring for tulips in a vase, in a pot, and in the ground.

Tulip bouquets

1. Choose the appropriate vase.

“A good rule of thumb is to choose a vase that covers at least half the height of the tulip stems,” says Callie Blado, former production manager at BloomThat, the on-demand flower service (acquired by FTD Florists in 2018). ). “Tulips love to stretch and will usually grow up to 2 inches in height during their life in the vase – so it is best to let them expand in the vase and not pile them on top of each other, which will minimize petal loss.”

2. Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle.

Keep in mind that tulips grow after they are placed in a vase when the stems are cut. Blado suggests laying the bouquet on the side of the vase first before cutting to make sure the flowers are exactly the length you like. “Cut them on the bias (at a 45-degree angle) — this creates a ‘straw-like effect’ and allows the stems to absorb fresh water,” she says.

3. Provide plenty of water.

“Tulips love water,” Blado says. “Cold, fresh water is best. When you bring your tulips home and choose your favorite vase, fill it about three-quarters full, as tulips drink a lot of water. We suggest changing the water every couple of days and giving the vase a fresh cut.” To keep your flowers happy, you can also add flower food, or add lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of regular cane sugar.

4. Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight.

Because tulips are “photosensitive,” meaning they grow and bloom based on sunlight, avoid placing the vase in direct sunlight or heat, as they will wilt faster once the flowers open. “For maximum vase life, buy tulips in the ‘early’ cutting stage or the ‘closed’ stage,” Blado says. “Tulips will have a limited vase life once they reach the ‘open’ stage.” Slight bending at the stems is normal for Tulips are popular because they “stretch” toward the sunlight, but the stem should not appear “flexy.”

5. Be selective when adding other flowers.

If you want to include other flowers in your arrangement, keep in mind that tulips are very sensitive to other flowers. “Some common flowers that affect the life cycle of tulips are daffodils, or daffodils, as they emit a substance that makes the tulips wither faster,” she says. “We never have a problem when we add tulips to our floral arrangements with roses, kale and hydrangeas.”

Tulips in flower beds

1. Plant it in fall or winter.

“The best time to plant tulips depends mostly on where you live,” says garden lifestyle expert Carmen Johnston. “If you live in the north, you can start planting as early as late September. But in the south, it’s best to wait until December. Check your planting zone before planting—the general rule is to plant six to eight weeks before the ground freezes. “.

2. Dig the appropriate sized hole and plant it.

Johnston recommends using a drill with a bulb hole for ease of planting. Dig a hole about three times the size of the tulip bulbs and plant them (pointy side up) 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Place it in well-drained, sandy soil. “If you have an area that gets a dose of morning sun with plenty of afternoon shade, that’s where your tulips will thrive,” says Johnston.

3. Cover with mulch during the off-season.

Johnston recommends covering your bulbs with 1 to 2 inches of mulch and fertilizing perennial bulbs in the fall with a slow-release bulb fertilizer. “The tulip is a fairly independent flower, and its bulb does most of the maintenance itself,” she says. “However, if you want to give your bulb an extra boost, try giving it a dose of liquid fertilizer three to four weeks after planting and then again in early spring.”

4. Focus on watering.

Tulips rarely need water. Johnston suggests a good soaking after planting and then again when you first start sprouting green leaves.

5. Clean it when it blooms.

Here’s the exciting part: Once the tulips bloom, you can use them to create beautiful arrangements. “You want to cut off the base of the trunk, leaving as much foliage on the plant as possible,” says Johnston. “Then immediately place it in water until it begins to hydrate.” If your tulips are annuals (and most are), meaning they only bloom once, remove the bulbs when they die. If you have perennial tulips, Johnston recommends cutting off the foliage and disposing of it once the plant yellows and leaving the bulb in the ground for the following year.

6. Try companion planting.

Planting some plants close together will not only make the garden more beautiful when the tulips are in bloom, but it may also hide faded stems afterward. Some options to consider:

  • Don’t forget me These little blue flowers look lovely as a backdrop to the star tulips in your garden – and since they last longer than tulips, they’ll help keep your garden looking pretty while you wait for the summer flowers to bloom.
  • daffodil the last The most common of spring bulbs, daffodils will be perfect alongside tulips in the spring.
  • Daylilies Looking for something to add to your garden once the tulips die? The daylilies will grow just as the tulips wilt.
  • Spring phlox Another bright and beautiful ground cover, this will add a sea of ​​flowers as a backdrop to your tulips.
  • Hosta These large plants with bold leaves begin to take off just as tulips may fade.

Potted tulips

1. Choose the appropriate container.

“Make sure your planter or container has proper drainage,” says Johnston. “If your bulbs have to sit in water, they are more likely to rot. Avoid this by using bark to create additional drainage.” Place the bark at the bottom of the pot, which will allow air to flow under the soil and prevent rotting.

2. Plant the bulbs one inch apart and fertilize them.

Because grouping tulips in pots draws more attention than a single flower, plant the bulbs as close together as possible — at least an inch apart. “You can also incorporate a different type of bulb, such as daffodils or crocuses, among the tulips as well,” she says. For care, the method is the same as planting tulips in the ground: do not water them too much, add a little fertilizer, and make sure they get the same amount of sunlight. After they bloom, follow the same guidelines for cleaning the bulbs and foliage.

3. Do not overwater and provide adequate sunlight.

Johnston has two recommendations for indoor tulips: Be careful not to overwater and keep them next to a sunny window.

For tulip arrangement ideas, try these expertly crafted bouquets.

Treatment may include medications and supportive care

1. Consider whether you need to dig out your tulip bulbs.

In order to keep your tulips coming back year after year, they need some time to cool down. In northern parts of the United States, leaving it in your garden year-round provides it with cool temperatures that will allow it to grow again the following spring. But if you are in USDA growing zones 8 and above, it may not get cold enough for you to have great blooms the following year.

2. Dig the bulbs when the plants wilt.

If you need to dig out your tulip bulbs, you will need to be patient. Let the tulips bloom and wilt, then wait until the plant wilts and turns yellow before you dig out the tulip bulb. Post-bloom time is key to providing the bulbs with enough energy to rebloom.

Dig them up with a small hand trowel and carefully use your hands to pull the tulip bulbs out of the ground.

3. Preparing tulip bulbs.

Cut back any remaining foliage and remove any excess soil. Then leave it on several layers of paper towels or newspapers to dry. This will ensure that your bulbs are nice and dry to reduce the risk of mold or other diseases.

4. Store in a cool, dark place.

You can store them in your refrigerator, a cool basement, or anywhere else where they can literally rest in temperatures into the 40s for a few months.

Ethylene found in apples, avocados and other fruits can cause bulbs to rot.

5. Replant in the fall.

Replant tulips at the same time of year that you plant new bulbs. (And maybe even throw in a few new bulbs for good measure!)

Frequently asked questions

  • Are tulips perennial or annual?

    Outdoor tulips are usually perennials, which means they should come back year after year. On the other hand, indoor tulips usually won’t bloom again (even if you plant them in your garden after bloom). Annual indoor tulips are concentrated in pots and people usually throw them away after their first blooming cycle. Some may attempt to replant these follicles with limited success.

  • When do tulips bloom?

    Tulips are one of the first signs of spring. While most bloom times vary depending on variety, location, and weather, you can expect tulips to bloom sometime between March and May. Cover your garden with tulips that bloom in early, mid, and late spring, so you have color all season long.

  • What do you do with tulips after they bloom?

    For tulips in your garden, cut off the flower heads after they begin to wilt. However, leave all the foliage intact and let it fade slowly. The leaves provide energy to the bulb, helping it survive the rest of the year. Once the leaves and stems are completely dead, cut them back to ground level. In most cases, you can leave the bulbs in the ground.

    For indoor tulips, snip off the wilted bloom, move the remaining greenery to a sunny window, and continue watering the plant. Enjoy the leaves until they also begin to fade. Eventually, the plant will begin to turn yellow. At this point, slowly stop watering the plant and remove it from the pot once it dies. In rare cases, you can remove the tulip bulbs and return them to bloom.

  • What are some common problems when growing tulips and how can I solve them?

    Tulips tend to be the hardy, set-it-and-forget-it variety, but pests and diseases can find their way into your bulbs and flowers. Some things to pay attention to:

    • Fungi and mold are the tulips’ worst enemies. A fungus called botrytis tulipae (tulip fire) can damage your plants and cause black spots on the foliage. The mold usually affects the bulb itself and rots it, causing the plant to fail to grow, or not to appear at all. Bulb rot usually occurs in very wet conditions.
    • Animals like deer, squirrels, and rabbits love tulips. They can nibble on plants as they begin to emerge in the spring, or even steal newly planted bulbs in the fall. You can keep them away with chicken wire and other deterrents, or try sprinkling the ground (or the bulb itself) with cayenne pepper to discourage digging and eating.
    • Tulips have a shorter lifespan than some other spring bulbs. You may start to see plants produce less hardy flowers each year, and most of them tend to fade after three to five seasons of flowering.

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