How to get your tulips to last longer
As many keen gardeners know, many varieties of tulips lose their potency after a couple of years. The reasons are variable but in the large majority of occasions the climate is simply not conducive to growing.
Tulips originate from the mountains with their associated dry climate with hot summers and cold winters: something of a far cry from the usual northern European damp and mild!
1) Top tip number one MUST be to choose the right location to plant your tulips: A spot with intense, full sun is essential. Also, avoid planting your tulips near to house foundations, drive ways or other large areas of concrete. These masses retain heat for months and, as we now know, bulbs do best with a hard winter! See our tulip planting guide for more info.
2) Tulips, as all bulbs, thrive with a phosphorous rich soil. Treat your soil once a year with an appropriate fertiliser such as bone meal or well rotted cow manure.
3) Planting your tulips deep enough will expose them to cooler climes: three times the height of the bulb is optimal.
4) Snip off faded flowers. Flowers will produce seeds which will not produce flowers for many years. By removing the flowers the energy stored in the leaves and stem will be stored in the bulb giving it more chance of flowering in subsequent years.
5) Very well drained soil is essential for tulips to flourish. Treat your soil with added grit and sand and plant your tulips in clumps to enhance drainage.
6) Choose Botanical or Species varieties of tulips that naturalise. Darwin Hydrid varieties or older varieties of bulbs as featured in our perennial tulips range also stand a better chance of returning for many years.
7) If all else fails... treat your tulips as annuals. If your soil is wet, your garden shady and your climate temperate, all is not lost. In these circumstances it's best to remove the faded flower heads after flowering then, once the leaves have died back, dig up your tulip bulbs and allow them to dry in full sunshine. Store your dried bulbs in trays or net bags in a warm, dark, well-ventilated place at 18-20°C before replanting in the autumn.