Reblooming Tulips

Re: Reblooming tulips:  I am a new reader of your website and eagerly enjoying the posts I have received from you.

I live in Bangor, Maine and it gets quite cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. The old joke up here is that we have two seasons, winter, winter, winter, and one season of damn poor sledding. But the truth is this transplanted California gal loves it up here.

Now, my question is what to do about my tulips once they are past their bloom. I generally buy new tulip bulbs every fall and plant them after I dig up my dahlia tubers.

Then I repeat this process in the late spring when I dig up the tulip bulbs and haul the dahlia tubers out of the basement and replant them.

My new husband is the original Yankee and thinks I am wasting money buying tulip bulbs every fall, but I love to plant beds for a fabulous bed display (I'm boasting a little bit, but I do have people stop and tell me how nice the beds look).

Sooo.. my question to you is, what if anything do I do with the old bulbs?I admit in the past I have tossed them in the compost heap for fodder for the ground hogs and others. This I have done as a result of reading somewhere (The Victory Garden, I think). I have never "heeled them in". My husband did salvage some of the bulbs and planted a few beds, but only a few of the bulbs flowered the second time around.

My understanding is that tulips, unlike daffodils and crocuses, do not multiply, and as the bulb flowers, it divides and therefore cannot produced another flower for some time.

I have tried planting my beds quite deep, but even so, the second year, the bed is never quite a lovely as the first and thus I have discontinued this process.

So, there is my first, long-winded question to you. I did search your website for previous articles, and found one about wintering bulbs--
thank you and enjoy your articles--
Doug says

So, if I understand your question, you're asking me if there's a way to keep tulips blooming for a longer time (year after year) and save money.

The first thing you have to understand is that if you pull the tulips before they've had a chance to replenish the energy in the bulb, they won't rebloom at all. In fact, they often won't have the energy to live for the winter. So your husband planting bulbs you've taken out is a waste of time and effort.

You can either leave them in the ground until the leaves turn yellow or you can toss them away to feed whatever.

If you leave them in the ground, the ground has to be right for tulips - dry in the summer. If you garden seriously over top of them, they'll wither away for sure with the excessive moisture.

If you dig them after the leaves have turned yellow, you can divide off any small offsets and replant those for future flowering in the fall.

If you provide excellent homes for tulips (full sun, hot dry summers) they do quite well for many years. If you (as I said above) garden over top of them like most of us do - they'll slow down and disappear.

So - the bottom line to this question seems to be - if you want to grow bulbs without giving them a chance to grow and replenish, then you're going to avoid that Yankee and buy new bulbs every fall. (On the other hand, this gives you a chance to get the latest colors)

If you want to save the bulbs, you have to grow them until they turn yellow, feed well, deadhead the spent blossoms then dig and save them while you garden with your dahlias over top. Replant in the fall.

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