When To Cut Back Tulip Stems and Leaves

When your tulips start to look a little less than pretty you may be wondering when it is OK to cut back your tulips.  Tulips are one of the best spring flowers that you can have in your landscape, but they start to look a little depressing within a few weeks of the last bloom.  So how do you know when to cut back tulips?

Tulips have a particular growing season.  In the early spring we all know that they pop out of the ground and bloom, but you need to know what else is happening to cut them back at the right time.

After tulips finish blooming, the leaves of the tulip plant continue to soak up the sun for several weeks.  This process is very important for the tulip as this is when energy is being stored in the bulb for the next growing season.  If you cut back the leaves of a tulip too soon you will rob the plants of this important sun and energy and you may very well ruin your tulip garden.

There is a difference between the flower stem and the leaves, however,  As soon as the tulip petals fall off the stem you can go ahead and cut back the stems.  That is the most unsightly part at this point so getting rid of the empty stems will help a lot to make your tulip bed look better.

As for the leaves, however, don’t cut them back until they have withered away to the point that they don’t appear to be actively receiving the sun’s energy.  In other words, once they turn brown and start to look dead you can remove them.  They are done with their job for the season.

To remove tulip leaves you should be able to gently tug at them to pull them right out of the ground without disturbing the bulb.  If you cannot because they are still connected to the bulb too well you may need to wait another week or two.

Once you see a bare spot in your garden you might be tempted to plant something else. Annuals are great near tulips since they will hide the wilting foliage. Other bulbs to plant in fall but that bloom in summer are also a great idea, since they will bloom when the tulip foliage is dying back.

Knowing when to cut back your tulips is one of the best ways to insure a beautiful tulip display year after year.

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