16th May 2022

Tulips - what do I do when they have finished flowering?

Narcissi and hyacinths are worth replanting in the garden and will come year after year whereas tulips hail from a hot dry climate and will fail to fully ripen and form a new flower bud if we have a wet summer.

I always get asked how to care for your tulips bulbs and my honest answer is method 1 below, but if you have lots of time and space then feel free to recycle your bulbs and plant them in the garden, but be aware that small tulip bulbs will only produce leaves the following year so I don't recommend replanting in your pots by your front door.

If you'd like our 2022 bulb catalogue in August then please email with your address.

removing old tulip bulbs
close up of tulip bulbs

Method 1 - replant the whole lot in the garden

This is what I do:

  • literally grab all the stems and yank hard to remove everything from the pot – compost and all.
  • dig a hole somewhere in the garden and put the whole rootball of compost/bulbs in and firm the ground.

Next year some of the bulbs will be large enough to flower but others will be too small and just produce leaves; hence why you want to plant this some distance from the house.

Method 2 - dry the bulbs, grade and store

Extract all the bulbs from the compost and then leave them to dry hanging in an airy shed until all the leaves have withered and fallen off.

  • Then get a tape measure, or piece of string, and measure around the fattest part of the bulb. If the bulbs is over 9.5cm in girth (at its fattest part – much like my ‘wine belt’ tummy after lockdown!) it is large enough to produce flowers next year, if smaller then ditch these bulbs since they will only produce leaves and are also likely to dry out before planting in autumn.
  • Store the bulbs hanging in a bulb net/old pair of tights and hang them from a hook so hungry mice don’t eat them.

Plant as normal in autumn.