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How to Care for Tulips After Flower Comes Off

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

With their multitude of big, colorful blooms, tulips are probably the flashiest of all the spring-blooming bulbs. Tulips are available in a nearly endless combination of colors, sizes and styles--including single and double varieties; medium and long stems; fringed, twisted and curly petals; and solid colors or stripes. Although tulips require very little attention once they're planted, caring for them properly after they've bloomed will ensure big, healthy blooms next spring.

Remove the tulip blooms as they fade. Allowing the tulip blooms to go to seed saps energy from the bulbs.

Allow the leaves to remain on the tulips until they turn limp and yellow and pull loose with no effort. This is crucial, because the bulbs draw their energy from the leaves, and removing the leaves too early will cause next year's blooms to be stunted.

Fertilize the tulips in early fall, after they've finished flowering, using a granular bulb fertilizer. One small handful of granular fertilizer scattered on the ground around each tulip clump is adequate.

Continue to water the bulbs during dry spells until the first freeze. This will ensure that the bulbs are well-hydrated and healthy for winter.

Spread about an inch of organic mulch over the tulip bulbs after the ground freezes in early winter. Use a material such as pine needles or bark mulch. Don't use leaves unless they've been chopped, because they can mat down and prevent the tulips from emerging.

Check the mulch occasionally throughout the winter, because wind and weather can often cause the mulch to deteriorate. Replenish the mulch, if necessary. Remove the mulch when the weather begins to warm in the spring.


About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.