Are my tulips done?

imahousenewbieMarch 8, 2011

I was given some pretty yellow potted tulips last week as a housewarming gift, since I wanted to start a garden (I'm totally new to gardening, and am trying hard to keep my plants alive! I'll probably be posting tons more questions.)

I planted the tulip bulbs out in the garden after mixing in potting soil, and they looked great for a few days. But now, all the yellow parts have dropped off! It's just 3 empty stems now.

Are tulips really supposed to only last a week, in the spring? Is there anything I can do to make them bloom again? I've seen articles and videos that say you deadhead them once this happens. If I do that, will they bloom again soon, or is it done for the year? I'm a little frustrated.

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Dan Staley

Are tulips really supposed to only last a week, in the spring?

You'll get 10-14 days if you're lucky. But not when transplanting them when in bloom. Tulips are planted out in fall when dormant.

Is there anything I can do to make them bloom again?


Hopefully, if you are lucky, they will return next year if you leave them in the soil and planted them in the right place, but I wouldn't count on it if you don't know the variety and if it is adapted to your area. Most need winter chilling.

Folks in CA who want spring bulbs like that either:

o choose bulbs adapted to the area and plant in fall,
o if not adapted, leave them in containers and bring containers to a place where they can get chilled.

Depends on the variety, but that is how it usually goes in warm climates.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 4:15PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

You can have a spring garden full of Tulips where ever you are in California. Most of California has winters too warm for them to return and bloom well if left in the garden. You can dig them, dry them out, store them, chill them in a refrigerator for at least six weeks and some of them will bloom next year. At the price of tulips most of us do not think the effort to save them is justified, and we just buy new bulbs yearly. I buy about 200 every September when they become available locally and put them in my garden dedicated refrigerator until the first of December when I plant them in the garden. When you buy your tulips if you choose a combination of early, mid season, and late varieties you can extend the blooming season in the garden. Al

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 8:06AM
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You can plant gladiola bulbs now. I will plant mine this weekend (ooops, forgot I had them!)
Tulips are a short show but a very nice one. In the Bay Area I do have some tulips returning from last year but it is best to plant new bulbs each Fall for a spectacular Spring show. Daffodils on the other hand will come back strong for quite a few years.
Daffies or tulips can also be planted densely in bulb pots in the Fall if you like to do the container thing.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Dan Staley

I tried the 'planting new bulbs every fall' thing. It didn't last long.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:56PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Congrats on your house, Iahousenewbie.

I strongly recommend checking out Sunset's Garden Book. It was my first gardening book & I still wouldn't be without it. Used book stores have older editions, which I prefer.

I have 'Pink Impression' Darwin type tulips in the soil. This will be their 3rd spring and they are looking good! Shall post a picture when they open. But my favorite tulip is 'Queen of the Night' and she's not a Darwin type. Have to replace every two years.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:36PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I think every gardener wants to grow the flowers that do not do well in their own climate. I want peonies. But you know what likes to grow here? Coyote Bush, so no peonies for Renee.

If you look at the FAQ for California gardeners, it has a section on bulbs. South African bulbs grow really well in Southern California. Tulips and daffodils- not so good. Most bulbs, however, do not bloom for very long. That's one of the reasons we love them so much- they are short-lived beauties. They keep us wanting more.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 12:08AM
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Renee, my parents live in zone 19 (Chino Hills) and they have several peonies that have been growing great for over 10 years. They are planted up behind a cinder block retaining wall, so maybe they're experiencing the right amount of chill. Maybe you could try growing them in pots. I've found that I've been able to grow both hosta and asilbe in pots pretty successfully, even in my zone.

I definitely covet things that I can't grow here (lilac and dogwood in particular), but love the things we can grow here (begonias!).

imahousenewbie, sorry about the tulips. I find the trial and error process of gardening to be fun. Every error allows you to go back to the nursery and try something else... :)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 1:53PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Bill, my envy of your parents is boundless.
I have killed too many to try again. I will content myself with photos on Gardenweb.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 1:04AM
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I'm in the mountains and tulips and daffys are about the only thing I can grow successfully!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 3:29PM
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