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How to care for tulips after bloom

Updated February 21, 2017

Tulips bloom in early spring bringing a profusion of colour to your garden. With proper care, you can enjoy these gorgeous spring flowers year after year. Tulips provide an array of colours and textures from miniature tulips tucked into tight spaces to giants that dominate the flower bed.

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  1. Browse magazines or seed catalogues to determine the kind of tulip you would like to grow. Keep in mind that the size, shape and colour you choose depends on the area you wish to grow them in. Tiny tulips tucked into a tight corner will bring a delightful splash of colour, but giant varieties may look out of place there.

  2. Choose a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Although tulips will bloom with less sun, the blooms will generally be smaller and may lack colour. Keep in mind that tulips bloom early and can be grown under deciduous trees that will not have leaved out yet in the spring. The key is to find a location that receives plenty of sunshine in the spring.

  3. Prepare the bed by tilling the soil to 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches). Remove and rocks, roots and debris.

  4. Add plenty of compost or organic material to the soil and work it in well.

  5. Plant tulip bulbs 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) deep, depending on the variety and the size of the bulbs, with the pointed end up. The best time to plant is in the early fall for spring blooms. Plant tulips in groups of three or five for the best results.

  6. Sprinkle the top of the soil over the tulips with bulb fertiliser and work into the top inch or two of the soil. This fertiliser will dissolve and feed the bulbs when it rains.

  7. Allow tulip leaves to continue to grow after blooming. Once the have turned yellow or brown and fallen over, you can trim them back to the ground if desired. After blooming, the tulips will use energy to strengthen the bulbs for next year. Cutting them back before they have died off may prevent next years blooms.

  8. Mulch with 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) of hay or leaves to protect the bulbs from harsh winter conditions.

  9. Tip

    To extend the blooming season of tulips, plant several varieties with different blooming times. Tulips come in early, mid season, and late blooming varieties. Choose several that will bloom in succession for a stunning display of colour.

    Fertilise established tulips in early spring before blooming. Fertilise again in the autumn, if desired.


    Do not cut the leaves back after blooming. The period of time after blooming is when tulips use energy to build strong bulbs for next year's blooms.

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Things You'll Need

  • tulip bulbs
  • fertiliser
  • compost

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

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