How to Remove Wilted Tulip after Blooming?

Wilting is the part of life for every flower. Once it blooms, Wilting is just a matter of time. Slowly the petals and sepals of the flowers lose their turgidity. It will droop and eventually fall off the head. In the case of Tulips, the stem and foliage will follow the path of the bloom. They all will wilt within the next 4 to 5 weeks. It may seem sad but It’s not. Wilting is natural for Bulb-grown plants like Tulips. It is not the end,  wilting only marks the end of the season, not the plant itself. The bulbs will sprout again in early spring if properly cared for. To do this you have to remove wilted Tulip after blooming. Don’t worry if you are new to this, we are here to help you out.

How to Remove Wilted Tulip after Blooming?– Start with removing the dead Tulip flowers. Wait for the foliage to turn yellow and then complete brown. Once the foliage is dead brown, carefully dig out the bulbs. You can remove extra foliage to make some room to work. Although it is not required, the leaves will dry and fall off eventually. Avoid any damage or cuts to the Tulip bulbs. Remove the soil from the bulbs using a brush. Store the bulbs in the dark well-ventilated shed for the next season. Vernalize and force the bulbs to bloom whenever required.

Remove Wilted Tulip
How to Remove Wilted Tulip?

Check out my previous post: How to Grow Tulips in a Greenhouse?

Is Wilting natural in Tulips after blooming?

Tulips naturally wilt after the blooming. This is a natural process. It indicates that the Tulip plant has attained its maturity. Its life cycle is over. Now all you need is to wait until all of the foliage turns brown.

The next important thing to do is the procurement of the bulbs. You can simply leave the tulip bulbs in the soil for wintering. Long cold winter will initiate new growth. The cold weather will slowly force the bulbs to revive and sprout again in spring.

As an alternative, you can also dig out the bulbs and store them for the next plantation. This type of procurement is especially required when the winter is short and the temperature is not enough for the vernalization of the bulbs.

Check out my favorite Tulips on Amazon.

Should you cut off dead Tulips?

Yes, you can cut off dead Tulips. In fact, you should cut the dead and spent Tulip flowers to avoid pest attacks. Spent flowers can act as a breeding ground for several pests and bugs.

The increasing temperature of the spring season also helps them to make clusters. These pests and bugs can damage fresh blooms as well as the bulbs. Therefore it is better to cut and remove the dead wilted Tulips.

But Wait… Don’t hurry. Wait for the flower head to dry completely before pruning. You can easily tear the dry flower stock with a bare hand. Instead, I would recommend using a sharp scissor or pruner to avoid tear damage. Knife or blades can be used but those are not very comfortable in handling with Tulips. Make sure to clean and sanitize the tools before and after each use.

You can toss the cut heads into a compost bin. The dead tulip flowers decompose really fast. First of all sort out any infected flowers else, it can infect the entire compost lot.

How to Remove Wilted Tulip Safely?

The season for Tulip plants ends after it blooms. Once the blooming is over, nature plays its role. The flower will doop or wilt in 7 to 10 days maximum. First, the petals will start spreading and falling off. Then the sepals and finally the flower stock will fall. All of this may take somewhere around 3 to4 weeks to happen.

easy way to remove wilted tulips
Learn the easiest way to Remove Wilted Tulip

This is a natural event and nothing to worry about. You leave the plant to weather and fall to the ground on its own. Or you may cut it off to keep the space clean. The choice is yours and it will have some consequences.

If you let the plant die and decay over the flower bed then it can gather lots of pests and insects. On the other hand, If you cut off the plant too early then the bulb may die. So make sure whatever you do, do it with some care.

In my experience, the best option is to remove wilted tulips after blooming is over. It has some cons yet you can manage the odds with proper preparation and care.

You should read this: When to Plant Bulbs in Greenhouse?

Cut the Tulip Flower Stock or Stem

Start with cutting the flower stock or stem to the 2 to a 3-inch height above the soil line. If the Tulip flower is already collected for showcase or selling. Then you won’t need to do this excessively.  The remaining stock will dry off on its own.

2 or 3-inch tip of the crown should remain above the soil. This is important to identify the location of the bulbs.

Use a sharp pruner or a pair of scissors to cut the stem back to the ground. Clean the tools before using them to avoid any fungal or bacterial infection to the main stalk.

Let The Foliage Dry

Once the flower head is cut off. It’s time to cut and remove the foliage. You should wait till the foliage turn brown. Green foliage is still supplementing bulb growth. If you cut the green leaves and foliage then the bulb may die. So, wait for the leaves to die and dry naturally.

Once the foliage is dead, you can either pull it off or cut it with a pair of scissors. In my opinion, cutting is better than pulling as it avoids tear damage to the bulb.

Make sure the bulb crown stands above the ground to identify the position of the Tulip bulb.

Remove any Dead Foliage

Finally, clean the Tulip plant and the surrounding flower bed. Remove any dead or decaying foliage left on the plant or the soil surface.

Carefully pick them all and toss them in the compost bin. But make sure they are not infected with any fungal or bacterial diseases. Else your entire compost will be infected and become waste. Removing dead foliage is essential to avoid bugs and insects. They can infect and kill the tulip bulb. The rising spring or summer temperature will encourage those bugs to dig deep into the bulbs. The bulb will provide adequate food and shelter for them to breed and spread all over. So cleanliness is essential to growing Tulips.

Dig out the Tulip Bulbs

Dig out the Tulip bulbs at the end of the season. It should be done with care once all the foliage is dead. Carefully remove wilted tulip from the soil.

Make a trench around the bulb position. Remember we have left the 2-inch stem portion above the ground. Mark those stem heads to identify the position of the Tulip bulbs. Each flowering Tulip Bulb can size up to 12 to 14 inches in circumference. These big size bulbs are usually accompanied by a couple of small baby Tulip bulbs.

To remove soil, first considering the size of the root ball. I have noticed that most Tulips will remain within a 10-inch diameter. Therefore make a trench of 10 to 12-inch diameter around the main stem of the Tulip bulb.

Slowly remove soil from the sides and pull out the Bulbs. You should use small handheld tools to dig out the Tulip bulbs. Do it gently and slowly to avoid any cut or damage to the bulbs. Don’t worry if some baby bulbs get damage. You will get more of them next time. But keep the main big optimum size bulbs safe. They are the first to bloom in the season. The baby bulbs will take a couple of years to bloom.

Also read: Spring Yard Clean up List: Garden Preparation

Remove dirt from the Bulbs

Take out the Tulip bulbs carefully. Leave them in an open shed for a couple of days. The winds will dry off the soil and slow down the metabolic activities of the Tulip bulb.

Once the soil becomes dry, remove it with a brush. Gently scrub off all the dirt. You can wash the bulbs in water mixed with a 1% fungicidal solution. Leave the bulb in water solution for 5 to 10 minutes and take it out. gently shake the bulbs to remove any water drops. Put it in shade for 2 days to dry out.

Keep in mind the soil will accumulate moisture from time to time. This moisture will cause fungal growth which will eventually degrade the bulb quality. Therefore you have to remove all of the first away from tulip bulbs.

Don’t wash the bulbs if you are not comfortable with them. Any moisture or water droplets left o the bulb can cause fungal infection so leave this for professionals. Washing at this stage is done by commercial flower cultivators. They use an antifungal solution with some organic promoters to protect the bulbs from weathering.

Divide the Tulip Bulbs

Once the Tulip bulbs are clean, It’s time to divide and sort them. This step is completely optional for small gardeners. You don’t need to worry about the separation of the bulbs. Simply move on to the storage procedure.

If you really want to follow this step the know the reason first. Sorting and separation of the bulbs are essential to identify the damaged or diseased bulbs. Once you find something bad, just toss it out of the bunch to protect others.

Next, you have to sort the bulbs according to the variety and sizes. Again this is not essential but if you do this then it will be an advantage. Tulips grown from sorted bulbs are easier to identify with flower color and quality before blooming. It is especially helpful if you plan to sell the Tulip plants before blooming. You can suggest the best plant to your customer as you knew what they expect and what they are gonna get. So sorting is really helpful.

Finally, if you sort the tulip bulbs according to their size then you can track their growth till they bloom. Small baby bulbs may take a couple of seasons before they can bloom. Therefore, plants grown from baby bulbs can be isolated for maturing.

Check out Tulip Bulbs for every USDA hardiness Zone on Amazon.

Store The Tulip Bulbs

Storing is the final step to do the tulip bulbs. The journey of a Tulip starts and ends at the storage area. You can either store the tulip bulbs for the next season or prepare them to grow.  In both cases, you have to treat them in-house and season them to acclimatize according to your need.

The Tulip bulbs should be stored in a dark well ventilated cool shed until you are ready to plant them. The bulbs should be kept in dry labeled racks. You can sprinkle some contact fungicide over these bulbs to avoid the risk of fungal infection. Try to keep the temperature low to 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit inside the storage area.

Temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will initiate vernalization or wintering. In this state, the bulbs will start rooting. If the temperature is above 60 degrees then the bulbs can bolt or form an early bloom. Both of these situations are not good for the store purpose of Tulips.

Prepare the Tulips for Replantation

You can continue with vernalization by shifting the tulip bulbs to a cooler for 6 to 8 weeks. The bulbs will root and sprout. Once ready move those sprouted bulbs to the garden or inside a greenhouse for early blooming.

Final words

It is quite easy to Remove wilted Tulip especially if you are aware of their lifecycle. The season of a Tulip plant ends when the blooming is over but it will stay alive. You have to clean the unnecessary foliage and store the bulbs for next spring season. If you are comfortable with all of these then go ahead, give it a try and share your experience with us.

till then Keep reading Keep Gardening!


Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not just a hobby, it's a way of living life with nature. My Ancestors were Commercial farmers: So I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here only to share my gardening experiences. It's always Refreshing.

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