Once the tulips stop blooming in the garden caring for tulips after they bloom is rather simple. Aside from properly disposing of any tulips that may have diseases there's isn't much to do besides cleaning up the foliage and planning what to plant in their place for the summer.
|Tulip Farm. during Holland Michigan's 'Tulip Time' Festival.|
I had the good fortune to visit my first tulip festival this year. I can't believe that someone who likes tulips as much I do had never sought out a festival that centered around tulips. After seeing hundreds of thousands of tulips in one place I came away happy that I only have a few dozen spent blooms on tulips every year.
When the petals on the tulip blooms begin to wilt and fall of the stem you can start the cleanup process. The blooms widen and one by one the petals begin to fall off until just the stem, topped off by the seed pod remain.
This is a good time to go in and cut off the stems right above the uppermost leave on the tulip. Do not cut off any of the leaves, and certainly do not cut off the entire stem. Over the next couple of weeks the tulip foliage will look ragged as the stem and leaves begin to turn brown and die down, but just deal with it. The tulip bulbs below ground need the green part above ground to feed and store energy for next year's bloom. You can continue to fertilize to feed the bulbs as long as there's foliage.
Like with everything else in the garden I've come up with shortcuts. Instead of cutting off the stems on the bulbs I just remove any seed heads on my tulips that were pollinated during the spring. Unless you're engaged in a tulip hybridizing program, and want to collect tulip seeds, there's no need for your tulips to produce a seed pod. In fact, your tulip bulbs will focus their energy on feeding the seed pod to produce viable seeds negatively affecting next year's bloom. Deadhead any tulip seed pods for healthier bulbs and more blooms next year.
You can also safely transplant bulbs now from one area of your garden into another. Before the foliage dies down and leaves you with big bare spots in your garden, plant some annuals or seed the area so that the annual seedlings can grow and mask the dying foliage into the summer. I personally like to plant zinnias on top of my tulips, but calendula foliage does a better job of filling in the empty spots left behind by dormant tulip bulbs during the summer.
|'TulipTime' Holland, Michigan.|
If you're growing tulips in your garden you may be interested in caring for daffodils after they bloom.