tulips - when to stop watering? how to cut?

anna_beth(zone 5-6)May 1, 2007

I have two questions regarding tulips:

1. when the bloom period is over, when should I stop watering them? I deadhead them but leave the foliage to die naturally - but what about water? I know they like it dry in the summer, but should I keep watering them when the bulbs are still feeding on the foliage, right until the foliage goes yellow and then dry, or should I stop watering immediately after deadheading them?

2. tulips for cut flower - is it better to leave as much foliage on the plant as possible to assure a bigger bulb for next year? I.e. if I cut a long-stemmed tulip and leave only one bottom leaf for the bulb to feed on, this means not enough food for the bulb and no chance of its returning?

My tulips are not species, and I know they probably will not return, but I want to conduct my own experiment. The ones I'd like to return are: fosteriana Flaming Purissima, lily-flowered Ballerina, Ballade, Claudia, Elegant Lady, Marilyn, and also Bleu Aimable, Ollioules, Dreaming Maid, Sorbet, Queen of Night, Angelique, Shirley, Arabian Mystery, Negrita, Apricot Beauty.

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rain1950(W. WA z8)

Apply some fertilizer now and keep watering until the foliage is yellow. Leaving one bottom leaf may be enough, depending on sunlight and fertilizer.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 6:46PM
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lisasmall(7a NoVa)

I'm an ignoramus -- I don't understand what you mean about bulbs which are "not species" failing to return.

I would like a permanent bed of 'Angelique,' so I'm interested in the answer! :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 1:46PM
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anna_beth(zone 5-6)

Hello Lisa,

You will actually find an explanation in the FAQ section to the bulbs forum. By species I mean botanical or wild tulips, which are supposed to perennialize or naturalize in the garden, and multiply rather than go extinct in one or two years. They are very small as compared to other tulips, only really visible in small scale gardens. The hybridized garden tulips, in turn, had the perennial streak bred out of them (I am quoting someone here but I do not know who - sorry) in favor of breeding large size and showy flowers. For most gardeners, those are annuals because no matter how much effort they put into getting them to return, only small percent returns AND blooms, if any.

If you do a search, there are quite a few threads on this forum discussing these issues. One person - by the name Shrubs And Bulbs, located in the UK - says s/he has had large perennial tulips in the garden for years, owing to some unique conditions there. Perhaps a good person to ask for detailed advice.

As far as I am concerned, I have had viridiflora tulips (Spring Green) returning faithfully for perhaps 10 years now, if not more. But they are a bit smaller in size and not as many as I had originally bought. Any other tulips that returned for me were/are so small that they simply could not be left in spots which I wanted to look presentable. What I do with them is I give them to my 8 year old niece, who has her own "tulip bed" on the side of the garden. We practice planting, weeding, watering, cutting flowers, deadheading etc. there. Those half-sized, leftover tulips of many different varieties are enough for her to play with and study.

But, since I have never gone through the whole cycle of producing bulbs for the following year properly (e.g. I did not fertilize or watered after the blooming period, I did not lift the bulbs to replant them later in a freshly amended soil), I want to do so this year, just out of curiosity what my results will be. I will have to lift the bulbs anyway because I planted too many in a single bed I had ready last fall and they look a bit weird. My niece will get the small ones, and I will replant the big ones.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 4:06PM
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Paul Lazenby


    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 10:48AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

That depends on where you are gardening. In my climate the answer would be never ever. We need more information.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 12:48PM
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Paul Lazenby

so i plant the bulbs then when do i water then. i live in long beach ca

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 5:15PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I can't help you knowledgeably as I have no knowledge of gardening in Long Beach, Ca. If you plant in Autumn, as you should, and you get rain in Winter they probably don't need watering at all. You'll need to wait for a local to chime in. As I said, where I garden Tulips never need watering at any time.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 12:18AM
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Paul Lazenby

so if i planted them now and its 65 70 most of the days how often

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 2:44AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

There are so many unknowns to me in what you are trying to do that I think maybe you should start a new thread with a specific and fully worded enquiry including your location and any other information you can give. For example - has it rained at all recently? Are you planting bulbs or are these tulips already growing in a pot? If they are bulbs have they been given an appropriate chill period and why are you planting them now? You need to tell people much more about the situation to get a meaningful reply. You could either repost a question here on Bulbs or try the California Gardening forum.

As far as my knowledge goes I can't help any further.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 6:02AM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Most tulips will not get enough chill in the ground in Long Beach. They need to be refrigerated for 6-12 weeks. If they have been chilled, put them in the ground about 6 inches deep and water well. I would water again when I see sprouts, unless we have a Santa Ana, then they would need more water. Less if it rains. However, my soil is pretty heavy and retains moisture well. Your needs may be different.

What type of tulips are they? Have they been chilled? (There are a few species tulips that don't need extra chilling here). Will they be in pots, raised bed, or in the ground? Does your soil dry out quickly? We can give better advice with more information.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 3:49PM
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Paul Lazenby

i just planted them do i water them 1 2 or how many times in a week not bloomed yet

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 4:02PM
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Long Beach California is not good tulip country. Too far south, not cold enough over winter for rebloom without digging and doing the special cooling cycle mentioned above. If you are going to plant them anyway, probably treat them like you would bulb lilies (if you grow them) or like onions or garlic in your garden and stop watering when the foliage starts to yellow. Dig them with foliage attached and dry/cure in a well ventilated shaded area out of any rain or heavy dew. Unless you are very careful with the cooling procedure, you are not likely to get much if any rebloom although you may get some foliage.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2015 at 5:41PM
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