Deadheading tulips and other jobs to keep bulbs flourishing

Written by Doug Oster on .


Tulips often don't return reliably each season. Many times they degrade, only sending up gray, greenish foliage eventually disappearing over the years.

One way to keep them thriving is to remove the seed head when the flower has finished. I cut the entire stalk off, being careful to leave the foliage. The left over leaves will slowly dry up and as they do, they feed the bulb, giving it energy for next season.

What do you do when that foliage looks ugly, turning yellow and brown? Look the other way at things that are beautiful. Once the foliage has died back, it can be removed and put in the compost pile.

If you want to add more tulips this fall, mark down where you want to plant them, you'll never remember. Darwin tulips are the most perennial of the large flowering types. They need full sun and fertile well drained soil. If they don't dry out in the summer, they will fade away. One great spot to plant them is under the drip line of trees, but we'll talk more about that in the fall.

Daffodils are almost indestructible, but sometimes they get crowded, only sending up foliage. This is the time to dig them up and replant them in good soil. Dig a few new planting holes, lift the clump, gently tease the bulbs apart and plant them in the soil three times deep as they are wide.

But if you're lucky like me and still have some bulbs blooming, go out and sit on the grass next to them and soak up the beauty. It will be another year until we can enjoy them.

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