Removing tulip bulbs after blooming and replanting in fall

(Question)

I was told that one should take out the bulbs after they have bloomed and died down and replant them in the fall of that year, in order for the plants to bloom the next spring and come back the same size as the original tulip blooms. Is that correct and if so, how should the bulbs be stored over the summer?

(Answer)

Dear gardener, thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

What you are describing is the method growers use in Holland for their field tulips. For a home owner, you can keep them in the ground. The reality is that, with the intensive process of hybridization, tulips only bloom for 2-3 years and then all you see is the green leaves coming up, but no flower.

There are several options we can offer you:

1. Try species tulips rather than hybridized ones. These are a bit smaller but are truer to the original, most are resistant to zone 3 and they naturalize beautifully. One additional advantage is that the squirrels do not seem to bother them!

2. Once the bulb is at the stage that only the green foliage survives, you can dig the bulb and grow its ‘bulbets’. Although it will take a few years for the babies to bloom, it will be a nice way to keep your favourite hybrids. Please see the following link to a post referring to this method:

Relocating tulips that flower poorly

Also, if you would like to learn more about tulips, you can check our gardening guide on this topic at the following link: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/factsheet/growing-tulips-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide-2/

Good luck which ever way you decide to take and happy gardening.