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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Gardening: What to do after your tulips and daffodils have bloomed

This is the first of a 10-week gardening column series, organized by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Communities in Bloom committee.

Bette Ann James

The Lake Report

So, what should you do with all those tulips after they bloom? To keep your tulips blooming year after year, they need to be put to “bed” properly.

Allowing the spent bloom to remain on tulips forces them to form seed heads. And although it may sound like a good thing, the process robs precious energy from the bulbs below.

How you put tulips to “bed” can greatly affect the quality, size and colour of their blooms the following year. They need that energy to preserve and use the next year to produce more big, bright and beautiful blooms. (Tip: All these steps also can be used for daffodils.)

Likewise, it can be tempting to simply cut all of your tulips down to the ground after they bloom. Unfortunately, this too will have a negative impact on the next year’s blooms.

The stems and foliage of tulips provide power back to the bulb as they die off. And cutting them off too early robs the bulbs of the energy they need for the next growing season.

So, what is the best way to care for your tulip bulbs after they begin to fade? The answer lies in a simple, two-step process.

As the blooms slowly fade, begin by first removing only the flower heads. It is important to remove only the flower head and not the foliage. Simply clip the fading blooms off right below the base of the flower. This keeps the tulip from creating a seed head but allows the foliage and stems to remain.

After a week or two, the remaining foliage will die back and slowly turn a yellowish-brown colour. As it does, it is safe to cut the tulips back completely to the ground.

This gives the bulbs plenty of time to absorb the nutrients back from the decaying foliage and gets the bulbs ready for next year’s blooms.

Betty Anne James is vice-chair of NOTL's Communities in Bloom committee.