Tulips are undoubtedly one of the most sought-after flowers in the present era. They have gained much popularity over the last few years among flower enthusiasts, hobby farmers, and home gardeners. The bulbs from tulips are highly valued as they are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They can be used to make delicious dishes such as ice cream, jams, tea, and drinks. Many people even use them for decoration. Besides their aesthetic value, tulips also have nutritional worth, making them an ideal choice for home cultivation.
Tulips are often dug up when planting your garden or when you want to expand your existing ones. This is because digging up tulips helps ensure a bountiful harvest that extends into many future bloom seasons. But digging up tulips is only sometimes necessary – there are ways to dig them up without damaging your bulbs. In this blog, we’ll cover all you need to know about digging tulip bulbs and how long they need to be stored before planting them back in the garden.
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When to Dig Up Tulips?
The best time to dig up tulips is once the foliage has turned yellow and the flowers have faded. At this stage, tulip bulbs are likely in good condition and will be easy to clean and prepare for planting. To determine when to dig up your tulips, follow these steps.
Wait for the foliage to wither on the stems before digging. Take note of the weather and days of sunlight. Even if the flowers have wilted, tulips should not be dug up prematurely. This allows them to bloom and recover from winter dormancy fully. The best time to dig up tulip bulbs is after they’ve been exposed to sunshine for a few days.
The longer a tulip bulb remains in the soil, the more nutrients it absorbs. Soil temperatures also affect how long tulips can remain dormant on the earth. For example, planting Tulip bulbs from mid-October through December will ensure they bloom throughout spring and summer. A wide trench should be dug when planting tulips for cutting, as this helps prevent the bulbs from being damaged by heavy rains or snowfall.
Digging Up Tulip Bulbs
The process of lifting tulips is straightforward. After the plant leaves have died back, the bulbs should be ready to be harvested at the end of July or early August.
The ideal time for lifting tulips is when there is no risk of frost and the soil is warm enough to grow. Use a garden spade to loosen the soil around tulip bulbs before carefully removing them from the ground.
Once removed from the ground, each bulb should have formed several offset bulbs around its sides. For planting tulip bulbs, it is important to dig them up and cure them before planting. Digging up tulip bulbs requires using a hand trowel to dig a trench 8 inches (20.5 cm.) deep around the plant. After digging up the bulbs, brush off dirt and remove dead foliage with scissors or pruners.
Use sharp scissors to cut off spent flowers as soon as they are done flowering. This will help the plant focus on offset growth instead of leaf development.
If you plan to grow tulips again next year, applying a high-quality bulb fertilizer right after harvest is best. This will ensure that your plants can develop offset bulbs in future seasons.
Preparing Offset Tulip Bulbs for Storage
Before storing tulip bulbs, they should be checked, and any dead stems, foliage, or roots should be trimmed off the bulbs. Offsets should be separated from the mother bulb before storage. These bulbs can be stored in a mesh, net string, or breathable paper bag. The bulbs should not be stored in a sealed plastic bag or bin as this may cause them to become damaged or develop mold. The bulbs should be maintained at 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal storage. Also, tulips should be stored in a warm, well-ventilated location with access to sunlight and fresh air.
How to Store Tulip Bulbs: The Basics
Tulip bulbs should be stored in a well-ventilated, warm place where the temperature is not below 15°C and is suitable for the tulips to develop flower buds.
If conditions are suitable, tulip bulbs may be stored out of the soil for up to 12 months. Before planting, check that the bulbs are firm and plump.
The ideal material for storing tulip bulbs is mesh bags, net string bags, or paper bags. These materials are breathable and allow air to circulate inside the bag, allowing the bulbs to remain healthy and vibrant.
Tulip bulbs should be rinsed before storing to remove any soil or debris. After rinsing, bulbs can be placed in a mesh bag or other suitable material and sealed tightly to prevent exposure to excess water.
When storing tulip bulbs for longer periods, monitoring their relative humidity levels and adjusting them as needed is important.
To ensure that tulips can bloom optimistically, they should be properly cared for after being removed from the soil. A good practice is to follow these steps:
- Lift tulip bulbs out of the soil.
- Dry them thoroughly.
- Store them in a well-ventilated location with a warm enough temperature for flower bud development.
- Monitor their relative humidity levels as needed.
Drying Tulip Bulbs for Storage
Tulip bulbs should be carefully picked up, and the excess soil brushed off without damaging the bulbs. Once dried, they can be stored in mesh, string net, or paper bags. These materials are breathable and can help control the moisture level inside the storage space.
The ambient temperature of the storage space should be warm enough for the bulbs to develop flower buds in storage but not too warm to struggle to survive.
When storing tulips in the winter, it is important to provide adequate sunlight so they can continue to flower naturally. Avoid subjecting them to direct sunlight after drying, as this may cause them to become scorched and damaged.
Storing tulip bulbs in an oven or under a bright light after harvesting will help them develop a healthy bloom, but this should only be done briefly as it might damage their stem cells. Instead, tulips can be stored in a moderate environment with adequate sunlight and weather.