Care of Tulips After Blooming

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After the tulips in your garden have finished blooming the petals begin to wither and one by one start to fall off. At this point the scapes (flower stalks) start to look a little messy and you may get the urge to take a pair of garden sheers and cut down all of your tulips to give the garden a tidy appearance.

You should resist the urge to cut back all of the plant growing above ground. While it may not look so attractive now the green part of the leaves and stalk are doing something useful for the bulb below ground.

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Photosynthesis occurs in the leaves of plants and in the case of bulbs,
like tulips, the energy created is stored in the bulb. The bulb uses
this energy to reproduce and to prepare to flower again the following
year.

After the blooms on your tulips have faded trim off the stalk and wait for the leaves to die back naturally. If the browning leaves bother you, you can always cut back any of the brown parts-- making sure to leave plenty of the still living and green part of the leaves.

When the leaves and stalk which held the flower have browned completely you can safely cut it off at the soil level and discard the dead growth.

The first year I ever grew tulips in my garden I cut them down all the way to the ground after they were done blooming to make room for some annuals. Some of the tulips did not return the following year and those that did had weak growth and smaller flowers. I've since learned to leave plants alone until they look good and dead before I go giving them haircuts.  

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