What to Do With Potted Tulips After They Bloom – We Are Not Going To Let You Toss Those Bulbs!

Giving New Life to Tulip Plants Grown in Pots

If you need to create a flower bed that would make your garden so full of colors, what better flowers than tulips? Growing tulips in the garden would be the optimal condition to give the tulip bulb. But then, there are times where a potted tulip plant looks so alluring that you walk home with it helplessly! Do not worry! Even the tulips grown in pots can be saved. What to do with potted tulips after they bloom? If you thought potted bulbs are of no use after the bloom, think again! You can use the bulbs again, this time in its natural conditions.

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Why Should You Save The Tulip Bulbs?

Potted tulip blooms are the ones that are often part of the dispute. Some even find it easier to grow them in a flower bed than understand the complications of a potted tulip bulb. Why do we talk about saving here? Because potted tulips are ‘forced tulips’ pushed to grow and bloom earlier than normal.

What to Do With Potted Tulips After They Bloom

What is done here is to fool the plant into thinking that it is spring several months before it is. Forcing is mainly to enjoy tulip blooms all round the year by potting bulbs at different times of the year.

Let It Bloom

Wait till the plant blooms in full swing. Wait for the flowers to start wilting. However, do not let them to sit on the plant for too long.

Potted Tulips Bloom

via Flickr.com

Remove the Bloom

If you let the bloom stay in the plant for a long time, it starts seeding, after which you cannot interfere and save the bulb. Seed formation stage also extracts too much energy from the bulb. So when the flower starts becoming dry, use sharp garden shears to trim the flower along with its stalk as close to the soil as possible.

Leave the Leaves

The next step is to let the plant naturally pack some power into the bulbs before you take them out. Do not disturb the leaves when you remove the bloom. Place the pot outside in the sunlight. The leaves continue photosynthesis, and therefore, the bulb is replenished. Water the plants to keep the soil slightly moist.

Remove the Leaves

To begin with, as the plant is out in the sun, you can water it a few times a week or as required to keep the soil moist without waterlogging. Slowly reduce the frequency and bring it down to once in two weeks. You should start seeing the leaves turn yellow. Wait till the stalk of the leaves loosens, and the leaves are smooth too pull out. If you have to tug too hard, leave the leaves on the plant for some more time and let it naturally wither. This should happen anywhere for around 6 weeks.

Remove the Bulb

Slowly loosen the soil and remove the bulb. Cut any portion of the stalk that is intact on the bulb with clean shears. Wipe the bulb clean and look for signs of rot. The firmness of the bulb can tell you whether it is healthy. A good bulb is one that doesn’t contain any rotting spots or areas that feel soft to touch. A firm bulb is ready to go into your garden bed with better chances of springing back to life.

tulip bulbs

Calculate the Ideal Planting Time

Check the optimal planting season based on the USDA plant hardiness zone you reside in.

  • For zone 4 or 5, the ideal time to plant the bulb is in the last weeks of September or the beginning of October.
  • For zones 6 or 7, the ideal planting time is the end of October to the beginning of November.
  • For zones 8 or 9, plant the bulbs towards the closing of November to the beginning of December.

Store your bulb in a cool and dry place till it is the right season to plant it. If you are living in a relatively warmer region, you can place it in your refrigerator to let the bulb receive a cold ambiance ideal to start producing buds. Make sure that you keep fruits away from the place of storage of the bulbs. Ethylene released from ripening fruits can lead to the bulb rotting. After you have given the bulb at least 8 weeks of the dormant period, it should be ready to plant.

Planting Them in The Garden

Red Tulips Garden

When the bulbs are ready, you can plant them, ideally before the first frost of fall. Planting the saved tulip bulbs involves similar instructions as planting regular bulbs. The pointed end of the bulb faces upward. The planting hole should be at least 6 inches deep. Giving at least a 5-inch or more significant gap between the bulbs let them grow healthily. Close the soil and use a soil-enriching fertilizer.

Tulip Bulb Deapth

There are exclusive bulb nutrition products you can find in the market. These are effective ways to increase the potency of the bulbs. Granular fertilizer with low nitrogen content often delivers similar results. You can apply the fertilizer in the recommended dosages on the soil above the planted bed. Water the flower bed once after you plant the bulbs and then avoid letting water stagnate on the soil above.

Wait Till Your Plant Comes Back

Tulip Bulb Emerge

Standard bulbs, when planted, might bloom within a short duration. However, forced bulbs take longer. Potted soil drains its energy as it tries and blooms earlier than the natural season. Therefore the bulb does take a few months or sometimes up to two years to come back to life. Therefore make sure that you pick a spot in the garden when you can leave the bulb for years without any disturbance.

Few Tips for A Better Success Rate

  • When you place the potted plant outside, choose a spot where there is bright sunlight for maximum duration.
  • Avoid overwatering the plant when it is still in the pot as this increases the chances of the bulb rotting.
  • To store the bulbs while also keeping them healthy, wrap them in a newspaper, or use sawdust to provide excellent isolation from moisture.
  • You can store the bulbs in a dark corner of your kitchen if the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much. It should not be exposed to sunlight.
  • Check your stored bulbs periodically to make sure that you have not missed any rotten bulb and left it with the lot.
  • Use a good quality bulb fertilizer to obtain healthy blooms.
  • Till the bulb blooms, you have to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
  • If your bulb talks a few months to shoot, you can use a good fertilizer on the soil during spring and fall.

Wrapping Up

Many users find the potted tulip blooms to be tempting purchases from the nursery. The problem pops up after the bloom starts fading. Then you might start wondering what to do with those precious bulbs after the flowering stage is over. Replanting potted tulip bulbs and restoring them to their natural growing conditions can be a tedious job. It is a work that requires patience, but the fruits of your hard work, in this case, would be pleasantly rewarding.

So, when your potted tulip bulb blooms,

  • Remove the wilted flower
  • Place the pot in sunlight and water the plant
  • Remove the leaves when they start to yellow and wither
  • Remove the bulb and clean it
  • Store it in a cool place till the planting season
  • Plant the bulbs and wait for a year or two

You would be left with a beautiful flowerbed of tulips within a few months or years. Once the bulb starts blooming again, you can continue caring for it as you would with a customarily planted tulip bulb.

Hoang Quang

Hello! I’m Quang Hoang and Grow Gardener is my little nook for all the adventures, and occasional misadventures, on my journey in gardening! As I continue to awaken life in little seeds and struggle to keep flora alive, I’ll be here sharing with all of you what I’ve learned! Join me in my little garden, and let’s grow together.

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