Should You Cut Off Withered Tulips?

Cut off withered tulips?

Tulips, whether in the flower vase or in the flower bed, are a real eye-catcher. Hardly anyone does not like the sight of the vibrant and colorful flowers. Tulips are not only available in many different sizes and shapes, but also the wide range of colors provides variety. Not least because of this, tulips are imported from all over the world. However, those who want to enjoy the splendor of flowers in their own garden must be prepared for the fact that the messenger of spring will only show its flowering splendor for a very short time. Already two weeks after blooming it is already over with the color splendor in the own garden.

After the flowering phase in the spring, the now faded tulips begin to form seeds. This happens because the flower stigma, after the tulip has faded, is pollinated. The ovary swells and new seeds are formed. However, this is a condition that is not desired in tulips. The plant uses valuable energy to form the seeds. However, this energy is needed for the tulip to form its brood bulbs. Therefore, in the spring should be cut off the flower heads, which are slowly fading.

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Removing withered tulips enhances the overall appearance of your garden or flower bed. It keeps the space looking fresh and neat.
  • Prevents Seed Formation: Allowing tulips to go to seed after they’ve withered can divert energy away from bulb development, potentially reducing the quality and size of next year’s blooms.
  • Promotes Bulb Health: Cutting off withered flowers prevents the plant from sending energy to the fading blooms, which can help the bulb store more energy for future growth.
  • Prevents Disease: Dead and withered tulip flowers can become breeding grounds for pests and diseases. Removing them promptly reduces the risk of infestations and infections.
  • Encourages Reblooming: While many tulip varieties are not known for reblooming, deadheading (removing withered blooms) can sometimes encourage a second flush of flowers in the same season.

Care of the tulip after cutting off the flower heads.

If the flower heads have been carefully cut off, the plant will appear slightly desolate. However, the leaves remain, which are still in full sap for some time. These leaves are also normally needed by the tulip for seed formation. However, by cutting off the faded heads, these juices are not needed. Nevertheless, in order to bloom again the next year, the plant needs care. The bulb needs fertilization at regular intervals and also needs to be watered. This should be done until the time when the leaves turn yellowish. At this time, the bulbs grow in the ground, as the juices from the leaves now pass into the bulbs. As a result, the leaves turn yellow and lean towards the ground. At the end of this process, the leaves can be removed completely effortlessly.

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This is a sign that the plant has drawn all its forces into the bulb and repelled the part that grows above ground. However, the leaves should still be removed before they are completely dead and muddy. Cut them off at ground level when they turn slightly yellowish. If you waited until they were mushy and musty, disease foci and rotting could occur. However, for the tulip, in principle, it does not matter whether above the ground disease or rot. The above-ground part is removed to protect neighboring plants, which can be infected with diseases from the rotting foliage.

Store the bulbs

In principle, if the flower heads have been carefully cut off after fading and the leaves have been removed before rotting, the bulbs can be left in the ground until next year. However, once in the ground, the bulbs will bore and grow deeper and deeper into the soil. As a result, if the plants remain in the ground for a few years in a row, they may not be able to make their way up when they sprout. In addition, waterlogging can quickly form, especially in heavy soils. If this happens, the bulbs can rot in the soil. Thus, the tulips gradually disappear from the bed. For these reasons, it is advisable to remove the bulbs from the soil after the leaves have faded. Subsequently, they should be dried. This can be done in a dry place in the garden, conservatory or garden shed. Another option is to put the bulbs in a small net and hang them in a dry place.

This saves space, because the tulip bulbs do not have to lie spread out on the ground. The net can simply be hung under an eaves. However, in order for the bulbs to survive this phase well, only healthy bulbs should be stored.
Diseased onions should be sorted out before drying, as this can spread diseases to the healthy onions. These diseased onions, like all other diseased plants or plant debris, should not be placed in the compost. Because from there, diseases that previously affected only one plant species can spread throughout the garden. Consequently, such bulbs should be disposed of in the trash can.

Until the tulips are withered

For many amateur gardeners, fading tulips are not really a pretty sight. Once the flowers are removed, only the green leaves remain. However, it is very important that these green leaves are not removed immediately with the flower heads. Even though it is not a feast for the eyes to have tulips with detached heads in the garden, these leaves perform an important function. Removing the flower heads is also done only under the aspect that if the flower heads remained, the plant would form new seeds. However, for these seeds, the plant needs the energy needed to form the bulbs. However, since the bulbs will sprout faster than the seeds, the plant should be given the opportunity to devote all of its energy to forming the bulbs.

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However, for this to happen, the plant needs the energy from the remaining leaves. However, those who are bothered by the sight of fading tulips, can transplant them during this period. To do this, dig up the bulbs and place them in a small furrow in the garden. During this phase, the fading tulips can also quietly stand very close to each other. The tulips can remain here until the foliage has retracted. The tulips stand here until they have withered. Therefore, they should also be watered only once in their new location. The bed where the tulips were previously can now be used for planting other plants.

As sad as the sight of faded tulips may be for some, the plant is nevertheless alive.
A well thought-out approach by Mother Nature
Experts know that the so-called flower scar is pollinated after fading and as a result the ovary gradually swells. With the consequence that new seeds can now emerge.

Experienced (hobby) botanists know, however, that it is nevertheless advisable to avoid this condition, because the actual plant energy is diminished by the process of seed formation. Energy that the tulip needs first and foremost to stimulate the formation of its brood bulbs. Because it has been proven that these usually thrive far more quickly than the seeds.

Action is needed in spring!

Reason enough, therefore, to cut off the slowly withering flower heads. Certainly, the plant now appears a little bit desolate, but this should not be taken as a reason to ignore the tulip from now on.
no more attention to the tulip from now on. Quite the contrary.

Rather, it should be left alone and, in addition, fertilized and watered at regular intervals. This special kind of care is given to the plant from now until the leaves begin to turn yellowish. Now, finally, the time has come for the bulbs to grow in the ground.

Tip: again and again it happens that in cemeteries or front gardens tulip flowers are ruthlessly torn off for no apparent reason. No need to get angry, because this does not mean the end for the spring flower. The bulbs may very well still be used next year.
Flower care – a different approach
No matter whether the tulips were planted in the flower bed, in a pot or in a tub: blooming tulips are indeed a real feast for the eyes.

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The fresher the blossoms are, the longer you can enjoy them – nicely arranged in the flower vase or trimmed as a bouquet – on the living room shelf or on the dresser in a blaze of color.

The plant remains left behind, however, are less attractive. To remove these however unkindly is not only unsightly, but also nonsensical, if one considers that with good care also in the next year with multicolored tulip splendor in the garden is to be counted.

Because the tulip plants in pots, tubs or beds, which become yellowish or brownish with time, are truly no longer too attractive, it is a good idea to cover them up with perennials or beautiful bush plants.

First the perennials, then the tulips. Or vice versa?

Every hobby gardener should give his plants a resting period to give them the opportunity to gain new energy in the course of this. While the tulip leaves turn yellow and the stems brown and wilt after the flowers have been cut off, the plant bulb, in turn, is busily storing nutrients.

Perennials or other plants will cover these unsightly spots in a very visually appealing way. But not only that, the bulbs have enough room to produce a magnificent display of flowers over the coming months.

This is perfect timing:

because most perennial plants are cut back in the spring to ensure denser growth, tulips have plenty of space at this time to unfold in all their beauty. In turn, as soon as their flowering period is over, perennial plants can soon be expected to sprout.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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