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At the end of their flowering period, tulips cause the hobby gardener a headache. The question rightly arises: can you simply cut off faded tulips? If you reach for the scissors prematurely, you stop a vital process that is already ensuring the next blossom magic. This guide explains in detail how to do post-flowering care professionally. You can find out here which options are available for the correct handling of faded tulip bulbs.

Why cut faded tulips?

That is why faded tulips are cut

Tulips thrive as perennial plants, their flower stalks and leaves rising from bulbs as a perennial organ. In every tulip bulb, the vitality rests for many years in magnificent blossom beauty. If it weren't for the fact that the plant strives to reproduce as large a number as possible with the help of seeds. A tulip invests a lot of energy in order to produce the seeds after flowering, which is then lacking for the next flowering period.

At this point the plans of the gardener and his tulip diverge. In the ornamental garden, the focus is on a lavish tulip bloom rather than self-seeding propagation. Thus, pruning wilted tulips is a key part of proper care.

Cut off wilted tulips

Cut wilted tulips in stages

The ideal pruning of a tulip has two purposes. On the one hand, the unwanted, energy-sapping seed growth is prevented, on the other hand, the remaining nutrients in the leaves should not be lost. Therefore, experts advocate cutting a faded tulip in 2 stages.

How to do it right:

  • Cut the main stem to remove the withered flower
  • leave all green plant parts in the bed during this phase
  • Do not cut leaves and stems close to the ground until they have completely yellowed

This procedure ensures that the valuable nutrients are transferred to the tulip bulb. Reserves are formed from this, from which flowering will benefit next spring. This shifting of nutrients takes a long time and should not be interrupted prematurely. Therefore, a lawn should only be mowed for the first time when the leaves are completely drawn in and dead.

Being late is a risk

Tulip leaves cut too late pose risks

While a premature cut destroys important nutrient reserves, there is a risk of rot, disease and pest infestation if the date is too late. These symptoms will tell you the perfect time to remove the drawn-in tulip petals.

Best time to remove tulip leaves:

  • the yellowed leaves no longer have green spots
  • the leaves, which are firm during the flowering period, are noticeably softening
  • the tulip leaves are gradually falling to the ground

Please do not delay the cut until the leaves can be plucked out. When a tulip bulb sheds its plant parts above ground, the process of storing nutrients is complete. The softened leaves then magically attract pests and pathogens.

Care after flowering

Instructions for perfect care after flowering

At the end of the flowering period, the growth phase of a tulip is far from over. Preparations for the next season are now in full swing underground. By cutting off a main stem to prevent the growth of the capsule fruit, the tulip bulb now focuses on its survival. With the following care after flowering, you support the busy herald of spring in his efforts.

  • from the middle/end of May fertilize with sieved compost, guano granules or horn shavings
  • give a liquid fertilizer in the flower box and tub
  • until the retracted leaves are cut, continue watering when the soil has dried

If you have cut off all parts of the plant close to the ground, the natural rainfall covers the low water requirement during the summer.

Storing tulip bulbs

Oversummer tulip bulbs properly

A tulip bulb tends to dig deeper and deeper into the ground until it disappears, never to be seen again. To counteract this process, we recommend going back to a traditional way of oversummering a tulip bulb. The flower bulbs do not remain in the ground, but are dug up and stored until autumn.

That is how it goes:

  • in May/June gradually cut off all that has faded and the drawn-in leaves
  • then lift each tulip bulb out of the ground with the digging fork
  • Cut off the dead roots with sharp, sanitized scissors
  • clean the onions with a brush and do not wash them with water

Put the clean tulip bulbs in the cool, dark cellar and wrap them in peat dust, sand or newspaper. Please sort out specimens that are damaged or covered with brown spots, as there are no prospects of an undamaged oversummer. Until the planting season begins in the fall, check the bulbs regularly for diseases and pests.

gloves for protection

Gloves protect against poisonous tulipanin

All types of tulips contain the toxin tulipanin. This toxin exerts the following deleterious effects on human physiology both internally and externally.

skin contact

  • Irritations, eczema, inflammation and broken skin (tulip dermatitis)

Eating multiple onions

  • Stomach cramps, vomiting, circulatory disorders up to respiratory arrest

Since care after flowering involves frequent contact with the plant sap, which contains tulipanine, we recommend wearing gloves and long-sleeved clothing. It should also be borne in mind that tulips and onions are often confused.

If you oversummer the flower bulbs in the cellar, please ensure that the two types of bulbs are stored separately. Since the toxin also has a harmful effect on animals, do not dispose of cuttings and discarded tulip bulbs in compost, cattle or horse pastures.

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