How to Cut Back Flower Bulbs


Flower bulbs are an essential part of any landscaping plan. They add color and substance to gardens at times when many perennial plants have either stopped blooming or have yet to bloom. The downside of flower bulbs has to do with the questions of what to do with the foliage after the bulbs have stopped blooming. Just like other perennial plants, flower bulbs use their foliage to produce energy (photosynthesis). Cutting back the foliage while it is still green will eventually kill the bulbs. Leave the foliage intact until it has turned brown.

Step 1

Use pruning shears or scissors to promptly remove faded flowers. Cut the flower stems as close to the ground as you can.

Step 2

Wait to remove foliage until it has turned brown.

Step 3

Use a lawnmower to mow down foliage in naturalized settings (like daffodils scattered throughout a lawn). Set the lawnmower to 2 inches high.

Step 4

Use pruning shears or scissors to cut back faded foliage in flower beds. Cut the foliage back to 1 to 2 inches high.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not braid, rubber band or force flower bulb foliage to lay flat. Doing any of these restricts the leaves' ability to accomplish photosynthesis. Do not cut flower bulb foliage off at soil level. Doing this may damage the bulb.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Lawnmower


  • University of Illinois Extension; Bulbs and More
  • University of Minnesota Extension; Hardy Bulb Care After Bloom

Who Can Help

  • Old House Gardens; Caring for Heirloom Bulbs
  • Moon Grow; Michael J McGroarty; Planting and Caring for Flower Bulbs
  • White Flower Farm; Tulips
Keywords: removing bulb foliage, caring for bulbs, flower bulbs, growing flower bulbs