What to Do With Tulips After They Bloom to Help Them Thrive

Published March 24, 2022
prune head of tulip flower

The question of what to do with tulips after they bloom is one that's often confusing to new gardeners, or those new to growing tulips. But it's important to know what to do with the faded flower and leaves, especially if you want your tulips to re-bloom next year.

Tulip Care After Blooming

After tulips bloom, there are a few things you can do to keep your tulips healthy and help them store as much energy as possible for next year's blooms. Tulip care after blooming mostly consists of giving the plant the time and care it needs to complete its regular cycle.

  1. After the flower fades, cut the stem, removing the flower. If you leave the flower head on, the plant might put its energy into forming seeds, which takes energy away from the bulb. Of course, if you are growing tulips for a vase or arrangement, this part is taken care of for you!
  2. For a while, the foliage will remain green, but after a few weeks, it will start becoming shrivelled and yellow. It's important to let the foliage stay on for as long as possible, since the leaves photosynthesize and store energy which allows the bulb to sprout and bloom the following year.
  3. You don't have to water the area where you planted your tulips unless your garden is experiencing an extended drought.
  4. In fall, apply bulb fertilizer or bone meal according to the package instructions. This will provide additional nutrients that will be available to the plant's roots through fall and into the following spring.

The most important part of caring for tulips after they bloom is making sure to remove the spent flower stalk and allow the leaves to fade naturally. If you do those two things, you'll have a much greater chance of having good, strong tulip bulbs next spring.

Do Tulips Bloom More Than Once?

tulips in garden

Tulips only bloom once per year. Depending on the type, they'll bloom in early, mid, or late spring. The bloom will last for one to two weeks, then fade. It won't bloom again until the following spring. (Though not all varieties are reliably perennial; some are short-lived and best grown as annuals.) To ensure a longer season of tulip blooms in your garden, consider planting several varieties of tulips.

Tips for Hiding Fading Tulip Foliage

The yellowing, fading tulip foliage is an essential part of the tulip's natural life cycle, but they can look a bit unsightly in the garden. To disguise the leaves, while still allowing the tulip bulb to get all the energy it possibly can, consider planting annuals or perennials nearby that will hide the fading foliage. Annuals are easy to direct sow from seed or transplant into the garden, and most perennials will only really start growing in mid to late spring, often after tulips are finished blooming anyway. Your tulips will be happy, and you'll have more plants growing in your garden - never a bad thing!

What to Do With Tulips After They Bloom to Help Them Thrive