I received a bouquet of hydroponic tulips and I am wondering if I should dry them out and plant them in October and will they come back. Should I let them wilt in the water or take them out so they don’t get too soggy?
What an interesting question. Apparently this form of growing bulbs is becoming quite popular. The hyacinth was the first to be grown in this fashion, many years ago. Special vases were available at florist shops for this purpose. All kinds of bulbs are now grown in this manner. However, the consensus appears to be that bulbs grown in water are not meant to be kept. Usually tulips that have been “forced” especially when in water are discarded. The process takes a lot out of the bulb and it may take a very long time to recover. Tulip bulbs need a period of time to regenerate, also they need a cold spell to encourage blooming.
Indoor-grown, water-fed tulips face two big challenges: recharging and chill time. Your existing bulbs aren’t likely to do well because they won’t sufficiently recharge themselves. Indoor light isn’t nearly as intense as the sun, and your water didn’t supply much nutrition.
If you still wish to try your hand at saving your bulbs, clip the dead flower off the stem, and let the foliage die off while maintaining the water level. After a few weeks remove the water. When the foliage has completely dried out, you may see new little bulbs beginning to form; leave these. Cut off the dry foliage and the roots. Store the bulbs keeping them as dry and as cool as possible. (In the basement or garage for instance). Place them in a paper bag, in which you have poked some holes. Keep away from ripening fruits (the fruits produce ethylene gas, which destroys the flower bud within the bulb). Plant them in your garden in September or early October, using a good mix of soil and compost. Water thoroughly when planting. Tulips grow best in full sun in well-prepared soil with good drainage so avoid planting where water collects. It will probably take a couple of seasons for them to bloom again, that’s if you are lucky.
According to the Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
“Saving forced bulbs after they bloom for planting in the landscape in spring is an iffy proposition. Even saving them in the container while dormant for fall planting could be disappointing, but it may be worth a try as an experiment. The probability of forced bulbs successfully blooming the following spring is doubtful, but you may have better luck the next year. As for most tulips and hyacinths, they have seen their best day. Treat them as an annual and discard them after they have finished flowering.”
The following link will take you to the complete article on forcing bulbs for indoor growth.
As you can see it will require a certain amount of dedication to go through with this plan. Good luck if you try it.