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13 Ways to Get Your Tulips to Come Back

In times of stressed economy, it’s good to do what we can to save money.

Since I’ve been poor and cheap for decades, I’m well-prepared to inform those who are experiencing this for the first time. I have been working for years, very unscientifically, on getting my tulips to return, instead of buying them every year, as is our extravagant custom.


These Prinses Irene tulips returned year after year – until I made the mistake of digging them up

And then what do you do with tulip bulbs at the end of the year? Tossing them out makes me feel somewhat as I did in fourth grade, when the egg incubator failed in science class, and I had to pour a half-formed chicken down the drain (There seems to be a lot of trauma around science, here. Maybe this is the key to my unscientificness (lack of scientificity?).)

Keeping bulbs around seems to indicate that I should do something to help them survive. So I started looking for ways to do that.

Some of my ideas for getting tulips to return came from the folks at Old House Gardens, who have their own tip sheet for helping tulips come back. Others came from Janis Ruksans, who has been collecting, propagating, and breeding bulbs for decades. Brent and Becky’s gave me the good soil tip (which I ignored for many years). Still others are a combination of my own observation, research, and guesswork.

While I haven’t come up with the Definitive Home Method getting tulips to return, I have come up with a lot of things that will up your chances. Don’t be depressed by the length of the list; I don’t do all of the things on it, either. Bulbs are forgiving. Just taking heed of pointer #1 will give you ever-increasing returns on your tulips. Even in these hard times.

1. Buy the right varieties of tulip.

Older tulips were bred for gardeners. Newer ones (after about 1950) are bred for the cut-flower industry, which is more interested in instant results than lasting glory. But the category of tulip matters, too. Fosterianas, kauffmanias, greggis, and most so-called “species” tulips (they aren’t always) tend to repeat easily and reliably in the garden. Among these categories, some are more long-lasting than others. ‘Purissima’, ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Lady Jane’ and T. batalinii ‘Apricot Jewel’ have done well for me. (In an earlier post  I went into this in more detail.)

2. Leave tulip foliage on until it’s dead, dead, dead. And don’t tie it up, either.

For some reason, there’s a gardening tradition of cutting bulb foliage when it starts to go yellow. To me, this neatness smacks of overzealous housekeeping, but you don’t have to militate against tidiness to see that cutting foliage has a very bad effect on bulbs. Tying up foliage, often cited as an alternative, is equally bad; those leaves need sun. Which leads us to the next point.

3. Give tulips enough sun.

I learned this one the hard way. Sunlight on the foliage is what feeds it. And since the foliage feeds the bulb and the bulb makes the flower….this is starting to sound like a folk song, but you get the picture. My semi-shady garden has made me very aware that the more sun you give tulips, the better they return. Frances at Fairegarden  illustrates this with a story about her own tulips.

4. Don’t give tulips too much sun.

I learned this one the hard way, too. Hot weather can strike suddenly in spring, blasting tulip buds to tiny brown shriveled things, yellowing foliage before its time. Since the leaves make next year’s bulbs (this is beginning to be my theme song), foliage dead before its time usually means blind bulbs next spring.

5. Foliar feed tulips throughout the growing season.

I’ve been doing this for the last year for my tulips, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that suddenly, this year, I’m seeing blooms from several kinds of tulips I’ve had “incubating” for years as small bulbs in small pots. Janis Ruksans says that using foliar feed has vastly improved things in his bulb nursery, so I’m in good company. I use an organic foliar feed that promotes bloom, and I try to get it on my tulip foliage every two weeks until the leaves are gone. Every week would be better.

6. Calcium is great for tulips – as a foliar feed and in the ground.

Earlier, I posted my discovery  that Janis Ruksans, bulb hunter, propagator, and breeder, found that his small offset bulbs did far better when they were planted in rocky soil. Since he’s an experienced bulb worker, he had good drainage both places. The difference, in his opinion, was calcium. And, I think, probably other minerals. Photos of species bulbs show them in the rocky landscapes which create high-mineral soils. This is a clue to what bulbs need.

7. Ground feed tulips in fall and early spring.

Besides fertilizing with minerals spring and fall, I use an organic high-phosphorus fertilizer to give bulbs a boost. Fall fertilizing feeds bulbs as they wake from dormancy and start to send roots into the ground, seeking food; spring fertilizing (at least this is my theory) gives the foliage something extra to draw on as it feeds the bulbs for the following year. (Actually, I read up on some Experts, and found that they also believe in spring and fall fertilizing. Very gratifying.) In my own area, both feedings take advantage of seasonal rains to wash fertilizers into the soil, saving energy (mine) and water.

8. Split up tulip offsets and give them room to grow (separately).

Bulbs which are squashed together don’t have room to develop into maturity. They compete for turf and nutrients, like rats in a cage, and fail to thrive. If you’re getting a lot of blind bulbs, or the leaves are looking smaller and smaller, you need to dig them up when they’re dormant, split them apart, and give them living room. I generally use small pots for this, so I don’t lose track of tiny bulbs.



These are the small leaves that show when your bulbs are too small to bloom. They’ve been split up into pots to grow out.

9. Don’t water tulips in summer.

Unlike many plants, tulips loathe water. They rot. They sulk. They don’t reproduce. This makes tulips the ultimate low-water plant, since water is at its most precious in hot weather. If you plant tulips in pots, shelter those pots from rain until it’s time to fertilize in fall. If you plant in the ground, put tulips in low-water areas with herbs and succulents. (For more detailed info on this, check out Old House Gardens instructions on keeping bulbs going.)

10. Don’t put tulips where they will have saturated, moist soil at any time – they rot.

This is a continuation of the previous point, but it bears saying. I once put some tulips in a spot where they would receive maximum winter water (under an overhanging roof where the rain ran like a little spout). I thought this would nourish them to a fine future. What it actually did was turn them to mush. Tulips may benefit from a little water during an early-spring hot spell, but they need drainage drainage drainage, all year round. (The one exception to this might be Tulipa sylvestris, but my jury’s still out on that.)

11. Plant them deeper.

Two reliable sources said 8 inches to a foot. Do be sure that there is plenty of nutritious and amended soil under the bulb, no matter how deep you plant it; it still needs to get nourishent through its roots, not its top. And remember that tulips need drainage. Since I plant in pots, I compromise at about 8 inches. Sylvia from England writes that she has been experimenting with this; she planted her West Points a foot deep, and promises to report on the results.

12. Use good soil.

One of my antique garden books says that tulips need good soil, but not rich soil. That’s what Brent and Becky’s advises, too (it used to be in their print catalogue, but I didn’t find it online). Most tulips originally come from rocky mountain soils, so obviously they can grow in poor soils as long as mineral content is high. Like many plants, though, even species tulips enjoy a loose soil with easily-available nutrients. The big flashy ones bred in the light, sandy soils of the Netherlands may sometimes survive in hard or poor soils, but they don’t thrive there.

13. Deadhead.

Once they bloom, plants put all their energy into making seeds. They want the next generation to survive. If you want the foliage to feed your bulbs and future flowers more than the seeds, pick the green seedpods off as soon as flowering is done. If you have lots of tulips, you might be able to bribe some kids into doing it for something good to eat.

Maybe you’ve had experiences that refute these pointers. Maybe you want to exand on the ideas I’ve listed. Maybe you know of some tulips that seem to come back more easily than others, or even better, you’ve come up with yet another way to get tulips to return. Won’t you share the knowledge? And if you’ve got more questions about this (I sure do), maybe we can all put our heads together and discuss it.

{ 47 comments… add one }

  • Frances May 15, 2009, 3:14 am

    Hi Pomona, such very good information, and thanks for including me as someone who knows anything about this topic! HA You are the go to woman for tulip info. I am putting Apricot on my list to buy, love the color and the species class, also Purissima as a fantastic white. I am a strong believer in the magic of bone meal, whenever I can think to throw it about, but spring and fall are best. It works for lilies too, which are getting ready to bloom now. I like to plant tulips and lilies together. The lily foliage hides the yellow tulip leaves as the spears arise. There seems to be no rivalry between them either.

  • tina May 15, 2009, 3:51 am

    All excellent tips. I think key is to pick the right ones and you were so right to list it first. Therein lies the excellent education you have given us all!

  • Cyd May 15, 2009, 6:00 am

    This has been very educational and fun to follow along. I always thought you just threw ’em in the ground and voila. Now I have a new study of interest. It will be interesting to see if we all get better returns next year. Thank you for the wealth of information Pomona.

  • Steve May 15, 2009, 7:41 am

    Fabulous advice, Mizz Pomona! I happen to know a few – not all – of those tricks and I can verify their applicability. Your posts are always so full of life and hard-won knowledge, I cannot tell you how much they are appreciated from this corner.

  • Daffodil Planter May 15, 2009, 9:20 am

    I’d better print this out and frame it!

    I assume these rules apply to daffodils as well? Curious what Pomona and others have to say about that.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 15, 2009, 9:49 am

    Frances, I have mostly avoided bone meal as I have heard that, these days, most of the nutrition is processed out of it. Do you use something special, or have I been victim to a rumor? I’m interested to hear about the lily/tulip combo, and of course now I’m trying to figure it out: do the lilies suck up the excess water so tulips have drainage? is it a soil thing? Hm.

    Tina, I’m glad you’ve gotten something out of this series, I’ve enjoyed your comments. The first tip is definitely the easiest one to follow!

    Steve, it’s gratifying to have you back me up on these points, since I know you have experience with many, many landscapes. I certainly get an education from your blog, too.

    DP, I reviewed my pointers to see if they all apply to daffs and I believe they do, although I understand jonquils like hard-baked clay (not sure if they’d like good soil better), and if there are any moisture-loving daffodils (Tenby?) you might have to alter things for them.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 15, 2009, 9:52 am

    Cyd, I’m so sorry, my pageup obliterated you when I was checking for comments, now you get an answer of your very own. I’ve enjoyed having you along for the tulip ride and infecting you with my enthusiasms. It would be great to hear about your tulip experiments, if you’re willing to share.

    That goes for any of you, I’d really like to collect data about tulip returns, so an email of your success or failure will get an avid reading from me.

  • Frances May 15, 2009, 10:39 am

    Hi Pomona, you are so funny! About the bonemeal, it says organic on the label, if that means anything. I don’t use it on food crops, only Black Kow brand compost for edibles. The bone meal has helped, but I use whatever I have, any kind of fertilizer, general purpose little balls, slow release I guess, triple super phosphate until they took that off the market. The planting of tulips and lilies together accomplishes two things, the lily foliage hides the dying tulip foliage, they can be fed together, I don’t lose the tulips location because the lily stalk tip remains through the winter, I don’t cut it even with the ground. I guess that is three things. Knowing exactly where the tulips are keeps me from digging them up accidentally. To plant, I dig a deep hole, 10 inches or more, add bone meal and mix with soil, place the lily bulb, I like LA hybrids for this, a bamboo stake, soil, then the tulips around the edge of the hole, usually 5 per hole. I have some over six years old and the tulips, Silverstream, have returned every year and the lilies have made all kinds of babies all around. The lilies are LA hybrid Royal Fantasy, blooming machines! Soon to be featured once the buds open up. :-)

  • Pomona Belvedere May 15, 2009, 11:57 am

    Thanks for sharing your tullp-and-lily planting method, Frances. I think I’ll give that a try and see if it works in my garden. I’ll have to research the bonemeal question, mostly I stick to organic high-phosphorus fertilizers, they probably accomplish similar things. Interesting about your Silverstream returns; I’m having excellent returns on Silverado this year. Maybe it’s a Silver thing.

  • lostlandscape(James) May 15, 2009, 9:02 pm

    Pomona, selecting the right tulip seems key, as you suggest. The only tulip that ever came back was one of the warmer-growing species tulips that didn’t need to be refrigerated before planting. It was a delicate thing that required you to get down to its level to appreciate–Not anything that would have set off tulip-mania, but hey, still a tulip.

  • Monica the Garden Faerie May 16, 2009, 9:49 am

    14. Do not live near groundhogs who eat your tulips before they bloom.

    I can totally relate to being both poor and cheap for many years… not something I normally admit publicly (well, the being poor part which in many ways I’m not now but I was for about five years recently; I’m very much on record as being cheap!).

  • Monica the Garden Faerie May 16, 2009, 9:54 am

    P.S. Not sure what country you’re in, but I enjoyed reading The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches by Jeff Yeager. Even heard him. The book won’t have too much shockingly new stuff for you as a long-time cheap person, but it’s a quick and amusing read. His blog is here: http://www.ultimatecheapskate.com/blog/.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 16, 2009, 2:33 pm

    Hi Monica, you are right about #14; I get around that by planting in pots. In a previous post, I wrote about my novice experience growing tulips here – they got all but one out of a bed of 50! And most of the potatoes.

    I enjoyed your post on Jeff Yeager and will check him out further. (By the way, I am in the U.S.; N California.) I do think the garden is a good place for us to ground ourselves and check where in this world we really want to put our time, energy, and money (Joe Dominguez says the definition of money is “life energy”). I get a lot better perspective on this when I hang out in the woods or garden than when I am madly rushing around trying to plan something according to some abstract schedule.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 16, 2009, 2:42 pm

    I seem to be specializing in answering comments backwards lately. I’d be interested to know the name of that tulip, James, if you can remember it. Another list o’ information I’m collecting on tulips is those few varieties that don’t need chilling. (And actually, those smaller tulips were the main kind people grew until the late 1800s, so maybe your tulip did play its small part in tulipomania…)

  • Kris at Blithewold May 18, 2009, 4:52 am

    Pomona, We treat tulips as annuals here and dig up everything but the species tulips that we’ve planted in the Rose and Rock gardens. We store the bulbs over the summer in paper bags (after letting the foliage die back completely) and then replant in autumn. We’ve kept some varieties going for a few years – Dordogne, Black Hero, Cistula… to name a few and they lose a little in the size of the bloom maybe but are otherwise good to go. Usually though, we keep them over for one year only (and then “throw them away” to live in volunteers’ and my gardens!)

  • Cyd May 18, 2009, 8:41 am

    Lucky Kris!

  • Pomona Belvedere May 18, 2009, 1:50 pm

    I think so too – and I thank her for sharing her list of what comes back easily for her, and the storage methods (pretty much what Old House Gardens recommends, it seems like). I have a few Black Heroes which have returned after about 3 years; I think it’s the foliar spray I started up last year.

  • Helen at Toronto Gardens May 22, 2009, 7:27 pm

    Great stuff. I have a chronic squirrel problem with my tulips most years. They stay away occasionally just to taunt me into thinking they’ve gone. I’ll definitely try Frances’ lily trick. And foliar feeding — anything to counteract the sieve that is my sandy garden. Good for drainage, though.

  • ryan May 24, 2009, 8:14 pm

    This is good info. I’m curious what zone you are in. There are some species tulips that will supposedly naturalize in our area, but we’ve’ve never tried them because we’ve been skeptical.

  • Pomona Belvedere May 25, 2009, 8:29 am

    I’m interested in warm-weather tulips and daffs, as I’m collecting info on them.

    I’m in zone 8, which apparently is borderline for tulips as bulb companies often try to persuade me to pre-chill my order; I have to explain that I’ve been successfully growing tulips here for many years without it.

    Since we have a lot of microclimates, I’ll describe our chilling: winters are mostly in the 30s and 40s F; cold spells go into the 20s; very occasionally we have a cold snap at about 15F. Summers are 90ish, with drops into the 80s and at least two spells above 100F a summer, when everyone gets very tired.

  • Doug January 18, 2011, 10:29 am

    I found your “13 Ways to Get Your Tulips to Come Back”
    very helpful
    Do you have thoughts on composting?

  • Donna May 11, 2011, 9:56 pm

    I found this to be very informative and thanks. I do have a question though. My stupid grass mowing maintenance man mowed mine down before they bloomed, will they come back or do I need to replant!!!

  • susan March 19, 2012, 3:00 pm

    I really need help. I planted tulips (don’t know what kind but they’re red) and daffodils in a heart shape for the first time in the fall of 2010. They came up together beautifully in 2011, but this year only the daffodils came up. The bed is on a slope but we did have about 175 inches of rain and snow in 2011 where I am in the northeast. Do you think the tulips are rotten?

  • ADetailedHouse September 18, 2012, 7:47 am

    I am about to order a bunch of double bloom tulip bulbs for planting and writing a post on my blog about them, so this is such excellent information! I love the double blooms because they look like peonies :-) Thank you so much!

  • Paul October 14, 2012, 11:37 am

    Good article. However there is one rule you didn’t mention – that is apsrt from species/botaniacal tulips, it is recommended that all other tulip types should be lifted once the foliage has died down and any offsets removed. The bulbs should be stored over the summer. Kaufmanianna and Greigii varieties may be left in the ground, but they are probably best stored as well. See http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=684 under “Encourage Re-flowering”

  • Diana April 11, 2013, 11:07 am

    Pomona, I seriously can’t thank you enough for your wealth of information! (As a tulip novice, I was so disappointed to find my last year’s tulips came up this year all leaves, and the flowers that did produce came up in miniature.) I’m definitely printing your jewel of a list right now and plan to follow it closely in all future tulip endeavors. :)

  • neasha May 7, 2013, 7:52 am

    coolthank you

  • Sam May 10, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Great article! Thanks for sharing your experience. My entire neighbourhood (Tulip Street) planted over 10,000 bulbs this past fall and they’ve all come up beautifully this spring. We’re keen to see them again so we carefully chose from varieties (Emperors and Darwins) that are known to return. In my own experience, deadheading makes a big difference. The first year I planted tulips, I didn’t deadhead and got nothing but leaves the next season. I expanded my tulip bed the next year and the deadheaded plants are noticeably more numerous.

    I was wondering if you could elaborate a bit more on your fertilizing regime. What strength of fertilizer do you use for foliar feeding? I had read on other sites that fall is the best time to fertilize, but it sounds like you’re fertilizing in both spring and fall. Any updates since this was first posted? Have you adapted your fertilizing regime? Thanks for your time.

  • Carmen June 2, 2014, 3:14 am

    Thanks for the tips! I knew something was wrong when my tulips didn’t bloom like last year! I cut the foliage down too!!! Did I do permanent damage??????????

  • Lorna McAllister September 8, 2014, 11:06 am

    I live in West Central Scotland. We tend to be rather wet and windy. Our soil is, or was, clay. We have grown tulips in pots. Last year they were left over Winter in the pots and lots of them flowered again. This year we lifted some. Does your advice apply equally to Scotland? Thanks

  • adrienne February 28, 2015, 12:17 pm

    My Fiancee’ bought me beautiful potted tulips as part of mu gift this valentine’s day. Tulips are one of my two FAVORITE flowers! Needless to say they’re dead. I watered them when the soil in the pot was dry twice so far….it has been cold so I’ve left them inside next to a window. Can you please help me get them back to life…I have cut them as of now and now have the pot outside in good sun. PLEASE HELP????I would love for them to rebloom!

  • Frances C April 16, 2015, 3:29 pm

    I planted my first tulips in New Orleans. I refrigerated the newly bout bulbs. I’d like to reuse. One question. Do I did them out of their pots at some point and refrigerate them again before planting?

  • Wayne Washington April 30, 2015, 1:44 pm

    Hi everyone. I found a great way to keep the small critters and deer away from my tulips. I spread a few mothballs and some chopped up chunks of Irish Spring soap around the tulip bed and that seems to have done the trick. They have not bothered my tulips since. Apparently they hate the smell. Good luck.

  • Nabeela May 1, 2015, 12:18 am

    I buy my bulbs from bq and they flower only on that year and die again its so sad I plant around 200 bulbs and they even died in the plant pots strange what am i doing wrong.

  • Marcia May 7, 2015, 3:28 pm

    When I first heard someone say on TV that tulips should be dug up and thrown away each year, I nearly had a heart attack. (a) They are EXPENSIVE, and (b) planting them is a lot of work! (The latter applies even if you dig them up and then replant in fall.)

    I have no place to plant them where they won’t get watered either by rain or by sprinklers when my “signal” plants are wilting in dry weather, but so far the ones I inherited when I bought this house are returning faithfully each year. From their shape, I believe they are Triumph tulips. They don’t get a lot of sun, either, as they are planted under serviceberries. One thing I have always been good about is not pulling them until the stem comes away with a very gentle tug.

    The only time I lost the lot was when Des Moines flooded in 1993. My entire back yard was under water for days on end. Not a single tulip came back, as you might expect.

    What causes isolated, established tulips to come up with just a single leaf and no stalk? And what do you use for foliar feeding? That’s something I’ve never tried.

  • Adebisi October 24, 2015, 10:00 am

    I bhuogt 16 CFC bulbs in 2007. I also bhuogt about 100 of the incandescent Halco long lasting bulbs. A 4 pack of CFC bulbs cost $11.99 and a 4 pack of the Halco long lasting bulbs cost $6.99. I have 32 light fixtures in my house. I put 16 CFC bulbs and the Halco bulbs side by side so they would burn at the same hours. I noticed very little decrease in my electric bill.. Both made claims they would last 10,000 hours. Now, over five years later 15 of the 16 Halco bulbs are still burning and only 6 of the 16 CFC bulbs are still burning. I am replacing all the burned out bulbs with the Halco bulbs because any savings on electricity are more than eaten up by the cost of the CFC bulbs and the fact that they burn out faster than the Halco bulbs. The CFC bulbs also contain mercury which could not be a good thing and they emit an awful odor sometimes when they burn out. I saw 2 of them smoke right before burning out.

  • Sharon October 24, 2015, 10:59 am

    Hi Sarah, your wreath denifately shouts Spring! I have a square moss wreath on my front door. Cheated too, lol! I bought mine at Tai-pan. Just added a bit of ribbon and a found nest with faux eggs. The yellow tulips dolled yours up just great. Thanks for sharing with Share Your Cup Thursday. Hope you will share often. Already a follower, but now following via linky.Hugs,Jann

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  • Michelle March 6, 2016, 9:51 am

    I planted a new batch of tulips the first week of December and it is March now and they still haven’t came up. My one year tulips are up and looking great. I am worried I may have planted too late. Could you please put my mind at ease? I live in Southeast Missouri if you need to know the region.

  • Marcia March 6, 2016, 1:53 pm

    I just reread your post and the comments (including my own), and I’m shocked to find I didn’t say anything about phosphorus. Phosphorus fertilizers are being banned more and more because of the damage they can do to groundwater and runoff into bodies of water. Phosphorus encourages the growth of algae that can just choke a lake in a very short time. Further, most soils contain enough phosphorus already. PLEASE get your soil tested before using phosphate fertilizers for any reason, and definitely don’t use it on your lawns. One of the first things I was told when I bought my house that backs onto a lake was “Don’t use phosphorus!!!” (The other was “Don’t feed the ducks and geese unless you want them to congregate on your dock!”)

  • Jannah March 20, 2016, 10:43 am

    When do planted tulips die?

  • Shaila Kazi May 22, 2016, 11:02 am

    Hi Pomona,
    As a tulip lover from Australia (Melbourne-Compares with USDA hardiness zone 9 or above). The lowest winter temp can be 3-4C overnight, that’s it, no snow where I live. I am first time planting tulips in the pot this fall. They are all in the pots with nice mulch covering them. Cant wait for them to show up in Spring. I have one question Pomona, Please if you can help, as you grow them in pots. It says in catalogues that after one season in pots, the bulbs should be planted in ground the following season, otherwise they may not flower successfully. Can you share your pearl of wisdom in this matter? Also tulip bulbs in the pots , can they be left there to re-bloom next season?
    We have a very hot summer in Victoria, Our local bulb growers always suggest to lift them up and store them in a temp. of 16-23C in the months of Dec- Jan (Summer in Aus). I guess this is only achievable if you turn on an AC 24/7 in a room.
    Thanks again for such an informative post on precious tulips.

  • Anthony July 24, 2016, 9:48 pm

    I live in North West Sydney (Australia) and got two years bloom out of more then 50% of last years Tulips. I purchased World Favourite Darwin Hybrid Tulips. After flowering I dead headed all the flower heads, fertilised with Bulb food. I lifted the bulbs but lost some as I sliced through them. I kept the largest and some medium sized bulbs and put them in a open box in the garage. We have some very hot summers here and the temperature got up over 30’c on many of occasions inside the garage. The bulbs went into the fridge in March our Autumn and into the ground late May. They are now flowering again in July (middle of winter) in Sydney. The size of the foliage and flowers is smaller then in their first year. I will throw them out after they are finished this year and repeat the process with the new ones this year.
    The place that I purchased my bulbs from said only buy Darwin Hybrids for Sydney Australia as they have the best chance of coming back in this climate. I will see what success I have with Single Lates.

  • lynda September 12, 2016, 8:09 am

    Hello Last year I had a magnificent show of tulips in pots..They had to be left in pots as we were building a new house(pots 2ft across.So now the men are coming to move thingsto new address.The foliage ripened on its own.If I refertalize and add soil pots 4inches from top.Will these tulips grace us with another lovely show.I have lots of good bone meal, and can buy more quality soil for top of pots if its worth a gamble do you think???Lynda please and thanks I,m moving a huge garden at age 77years.Thanks for advising.Lynda

  • Sam12587 September 20, 2016, 10:52 am

    Just stumbled on your site looking for tips – my Mom had the same tulips come back every year & she did nothing to them.
    You can imagine my surprise that my tulips that I buy keep not coming back *but* mostly along the driveway fence(there are a handful scattered deeper in to the yard) there is a patch of old simple tulips(purple, red, yellow) that came with the house.
    I tried moving half of them one year in to flower beds with no luck.
    I really like them & want to encourage them to multiply but given they are growing in the grass, not even to mention dog urine and snow season salt, I have no idea what they like.
    I also have a rule about no weed spray or pr-emergent in that triangle of the yard. I wanted to put down something this fall to help them – what foliar is best? I have successfully killed off 99% of the dandelions that were trying to move in to the un-treated tulip area(I painted something on the dandelion leaves).

    I am in Eastern Nebraska

  • Mark altmayer November 13, 2016, 6:54 am

    Thank you so much for the comments! I like you tried to learn as much as I could about growing and propagating tulips. Someone mentioned triple super phosphate. Bulb booster really. This helped immensely and helped tiny bulbs become large bulbs after one year in the ground. That said I learned that you can over phosphate!!! After I laying down the appropriate amount of phosphate three years in a row – tulip leaves yellowed almost immediately and the showing was, well not good. I ended up digging up a few hundred tulips and replanted several hundred in the same bed. No luck. Another poor showing even with big Darwin bulbs!!! Ugh!! I learned from researching that I probably over phosphated and that it can take up to 5 years for the phosphate to neutralize. Ugh again. Not discouraged I dug up the bed and proceeded to wheel barrow out the bad soil and put new soil in the beds. I’m hoping for a great showing this year! Just wanted to share! Be careful not to over phosphate!! :).

    You mentioned bulbs in pots. I lost about 100 bulbs in pots last year. All of them in about 6 pots. All rotted. Ugh. I live in the chicago area. Any tulip pot planting advice? I’m thinking about doing this again, and watering and then bringing the pots into the garage once I see a consistent 30 degrees outside. Thoughts? I’m assuming the snow and the constant freeze and thaw Did the bulbs in. I’d love to hear what you do. :). Thx!!

  • Lisa March 20, 2017, 11:49 am

    I was wanting to know the dried up bud of the tulip.. there is brown little seeds inside the tulip. I was wanting to know are they actually seeds where I can replant them to get more tulips

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