This quick tutorial on getting your tulips ready for next season is something I first posted on BCLH’s Instagram account. Please follow me there!

Did you know it helps your tulips if you dig them up in spring and replant them in the fall?

Preparing tulips for a beautiful garden begins when this year’s flowers have withered and you have the seedpods left on the stems. Deadhead them! Chop off the seedpods unless you’re cultivating for seeds, in which case you probably know what you’re doing (or else: do your research). Deadheading puts the plant’s energy back towards the bulb. For other flowers, it puts energy towards more flower production.

A deadheaded pink tulip

Leave the tulips for another week or so, and then dig them up (carefully). Keep them sorted by colour if at all possible! You’ll find that the bulbs have likely multiplied into smaller ones. (Dig deep, and carefully).

Yellow tulips dug up and ready to dry

Then sort them without taking the vegetation off. Some will come off anyway; compost it. Those that are just bulbs: put them in a cool, dry place, away from fruit. The cold cellar for me! Those that have vegetation: let them sit in another location, preferably still daylit, until the greens dry out.

Bulbs that lost their vegetation while digging them up
Red tulips kept separate from other colours

Small numbers can be stored with their withered greens which will brown and crumble in time; this large batch (last photo) I will cut from their stems and leaves and store with the others in the cold cellar. Tulips need the cold.

These are mostly yellow tulips a week after drying.

Come Canadian Thanksgiving (mark your calendars!), dig deep into your lawn or flower beds and plant them anew. Cover the flower beds to prevent the squirrels from digging them out – they go for fresh dig sites!

I’ll plant the smallest bulbs in plant pots to see if they come up with blooms in the spring. If so, they make a nice gift. If not, they’ll grow bigger for the following year.

I hope, coming next spring, you’ll be greeted by even more tulips than this year.


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