Your tulips can be much more beautiful next year if you give them a bit of tender loving care this spring.
The bulbs you planted last fall, or already had in the ground, shrivel up in the spring as the supply of food stored in them is exhausted. In their place will be newly developed bulbs, each with one to four small ones attached.
The quality of next year's flowers depends on the size of the bulbs. The more food produced and stored in them, the larger the bulbs will be.
As soon as the flowers fade this spring, pinch them off. Remove only the faded flowers. If left on, a seed pod might form; quite often it does. The food utilized by the developing seed could better go toward bigger bulbs for next year. The green flower stem can produce some food.
It is a good idea to fertilize the tulips soon after they finish blooming. The purpose is to encourage greener and healthier foliage which will produce the most food.
Keep weeds out of your tulip bed. They compete with the tulips for moisture and nutrients. Water the tulips during dry weather. The longer the foliage stays green, the more food it will produce.
Do not tie up the tulip foliage to make room for newly planted flowers. Tied up, it cannot produce as much food because there is less leaf surface exposed to sunlight.
Wait until the leaves shrivel before cutting off the tops or digging the bulbs.
Many gardeners dig their tulip bulbs every two or three years.. if you want top-quality flowers they should be dug every year and only the largest bulbs kept for replanting.
If the bulbs are dug, they should be stored. In fact, it might be a good idea to replant them immediately after separating them from the small ones. They need a cool dark place, and in the ground they will have it.
When cutting tulip flowers to take indoors, do not take any leaves. The leaves remain on the plant to help promote growth of new bulbs for next year.
The best time to cut the blooms is when the buds have just acquired full color and no green shows.
Tulips will last much longer in vases if the room temperature is not too high, according to specialists. Temperatures below 68 degrees are best. Also, the flowers will last much longer if put in a rather cool place at night.
Addition of sugar to the water is not recommended. It will encourage bacterial growth in the water which will clog the stems of the flowers and prevent water uptake. Changing the water in the vase does not seem to improve the lasting quality of tulips.
The interval between cutting the blooms and putting the flowers in water should be as short as possible.
Crocus do not have to be drug, divided and replanted as often as many other bulbs. But when they become too crowded, usually in three or four years, division and replanting will increase the number and size of blooms.