Confused about tulips

greenhavenrdgardenMarch 14, 2013

Last year when my tulips were done blooming I pulled them up and composted them. I was under the impression that they don't return (or return well) and I hate waiting for the foliage to die down so I pulled the entire bulb as soon as the blooms were spent.
I never got around to replanting tulips in that spot last fall. While doing clean up today I noticed a bunch of tulips poking through. How could this be if I pulled the entire bulb as soon as the flower was spent? Will these bloom again?

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Missed a few, or some offsets grew in.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:42PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

My experience with tulips is that they use so much strength up that they seldom rebloom, or rebloom weakly.
I believe, in order to get them to make a good display, here, the plants have the flowers removed and discarded so they build up strength for one display. Certainly no expert. Did buy them, even the species tulips, and they never went from year to year. Ours are from spent pots, set out, and once in a while one or two bloom again.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If you sliced a bulb, the remaining part could have been viable.

AFAIK, there's no way to know if you're getting real (heirloom I guess) tulips that bloom reliably every year, or some type of less reliable hybrid. You just have to wait and see what they do the next year if that's what you want to do.

It may just be that the info you were given is because winter locally doesn't provide the chill hours necessary for bud/bloom formation. I'm told and have read that that is the case here, I've never seen any in yards or in stores (except the potted, already growing bulbs) but I don't know where the cutoff point is usually made. I've never been interested enough to investigate if this means that the foliage comes back but no flowers ever form, or if they just die.

In central OH, "real" tulips are definitely reliable re-bloomers, long-lived bulbs - but that's a zone colder, I was in 5b very close to the Z6 line.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:16AM
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Tulips need a cold dormancy. If yours are happy with your winter they will return & rebloom. Don't dig them up unless they actually fail to return/rebloom. You probably left offsets, unfortunately these babies probably won't bloom this year... leave them in & see how they do. :-)

I get people from warmer zones constantly telling me that tulips don't return. Ignore them. Some will work for you, some may not. I know that in my (slightly colder) zone I have yet to have a tulip fail to rebloom.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 4:42PM
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ofionnachta(z6 WNJ)

I have planted many tulips that return--some only for a few years, some year after year. We have three clumps, bulbs--whatever they are by now--all Darwin hybrids and they have been coming back for more than 20 years!

One is yellow with thin red line on petal edges; I am sure this is a President Kennedy. Two others are on the other side of the yard and are Gudoshniks.

When we first moved here I had an Estelle Ryjnveld parrot tulip that bloomed for many years--we lost her to a driveway repaving job (regrading of soil).

When I was around 10 or 11 I planted some tulips at my parents' house and there was one Greenland tulip that came back for at least 20 years. I think it, too, finally succumbed to a driveway repair, not age or disease.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:54PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

People from Deep South warm climate zones are absolutely right. Tulips do not, as a rule, rebloom here. Our winters do not get cold enough for the bulbs to get adequate chill. We buy our bulbs in the fall, put them in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 weeks and plant them in January or February. If you leave them in the ground, it's likely that you will get green leaves from them for a few more years, but rarely a bloom, and if a bloom, it will be small and wimpy.
The OP, of course, is not from the Deep South, so it's entirely possible that if the right types of tulips are chosen, repeat blooms will be entirely possible. But based on the other posts, it would appear that it will be diminishing returns as time passes. So, if you want a full display, you'll need to replenish your plantings at least in part from year to year.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks, Donna. I was wondering if they stay alive at all or just rot. I guess this is the reverse of people up north using Caladiums temporarily. It's been fascinating to learn how there is not a wider variety just because it's warmer here. So many favorites from up north can't live here, and so many of my new favorites are plants I'd never seen before moving south. Never much into tulips, but I miss lilacs!!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:29AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I grew up in Wichita and had lilac bushes outside my bedroom. They are beautiful and the fragrance is wonderful. I tried one years ago here that was suppsed to do well in the south, Miss Kim. It survived, but the blooms were extremely small and had very little fragrance. I eventually got rid of it. I content myself with butterfly bushes and chaste trees instead..

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Obviously tulips grow and spread somewhere. That somewhere is the Mediterranean. They need coldish winters and dry summers. If they get the right climate, they will produce tiny bulbs that produce flowers eventually.

In my area (Zone 6 New England) tulips produce flowers a few years (progressively smaller each year) then die out.

In general, I believe the South has more flower options then the north.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 7:10PM
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