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Tulips cutted 6w after blooming - but were still green 😬

ninac-zninac-z GlasgowPosts: 8
I’m new to gardening. My first tulips were amazing. All 300 of them. I was told deadhead and then to wait 6w after blooming to cut them to ground level. That’s what I did - stems and all. Only the leaves were still green and the stems kept growing back. I suspect that can’t be good. I pulled some stems a few weeks after to find them rotten. 😬 I want my beauties back next spring. They’re quality bulbs. What should I do? Lift them?! Still have a lot going on on top of them... and store 300 plus bulbs?! Please, help?! Thanks! Cheers from Scotland.


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,383
    It's only a guideline re cutting back. It's best to leave them to die back completely by themselves.
    Depending on what types they are,you're unlikely to get them all coming back anyway.
    It's very difficult to replicate their ideal conditions, especially up here.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 2,055
    edited June 2020
    We all learn from experience, @ninacrintzs. Next year you will know three things:

     1. Only some tulips grow back just as strongly the next year. These are species tulips and ones sometimes listed in bulb catalogues as perennials. The odds of your tulips being in this group are below 50:50. More likely in year 2 the display will be less good and in year 3 very sparse.

    2. You should cut off the leaves only when they are brown and crisp. You have been told that this can happen after 6 weeks but it can also take up to 10.

    3. In nature tulips grow in places with cold winters and hot dry summers. Scotland does not cut the mustard there - it’s mostly too wet and summers are not warm enough. That means that although you get a good display first season because the bulbs have been grown in proper conditions, you are in charge season 2 and conditions are far from ideal. To get round it the best advice is to dig up the bulbs, once the leaves have withered, and store them in an airy, dry place. Periodically check the bulbs are not going soft and mushy and replant them in November at a depth of about 6”, putting them on a bed of grit to aid drainage.

     Quite honestly, tulips can be a right faff. The trade off is a magnificent display but daffodils are a much easier plant to manage. You might have to write off those 300 tulips. I would be inclined to leave them in the ground and see what happens. If it is anything more than ‘not much’ consider it a bonus.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,383
    I love them - but I treat them mainly as annuals @BenCotto.   :)
    The only reliable ones are the species ones, but they still need decent conditions. Mine are in a raised bed, against the house wall, and in the sunniest spot in the garden. They do well.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • ninac-zninac-z GlasgowPosts: 8
    Thank you ladies, you’re all very kind and helpful. If i decided not to lift the bulbs, my main concearn are the growing stems - should i try to pull them or at least cut them back under the soil level? Or just I leave them as they are? (About one/two inches above?)

    I understand there’s no way of knowing if they’ll will bloom again - and considering i should have waited longer to cut/pull the leaves chances are slim. Tho I did feed them every other week during the entire spring with a nitrogen filled solution and my neighbours have tulips blooming for years with no lifting at all...

    Another newbie question: If i do decide to lift them, should i store them with or without the roots?

    Just lifted one to see how it’s condition and it looks prety healthy: solid and actually turned into three!

  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 2,055
    Turned into three is actually a problem because now you have three smaller bulbs and the two offsets, and maybe the original bulb too, are too small to send up flowers. Instead they’ll likely only give you leaves. 

    Personally I have never bothered with digging up and storing tulips but my instinct says trim the roots if you are going to do it. If I am wrong I shall be corrected.
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