Should You Deadhead Tulips? (And When Should You Do it)

If you have a bunch of Tulip plants in your garden, you have probably considered the prospect of deadheading them. Interestingly, many gardeners often double think this possibility as tulips are incredibly diverse. Available in all sorts of colors, sizes, and varieties, you will probably get them at any time of the year. So, should you still deadhead your tulips?

The answer to this question is: Yes! Deadheading tulips is always an excellent idea as it promotes the development of the plant and aids in faster reproduction. What’s more, timely deadheading also encourages these plants to bloom the following year without any extra effort from your end. This holds true regardless of the soil type or the hardiness zone. If you have tulip plants at home, consider deadheading them after every flowering season.

Can I Deadhead Tulips?

Yes. You should deadhead tulips as it comes with three key benefits. First, it stunts the growth of seedpods. Next, it boosts the reproduction process in plants. Finally, it also results in the faster growth of tulips in the coming years. Given these many benefits, you should certainly consider the prospect of deadheading tulips.

If, however, you are still unsure, here are some more insights into the topic.

1. Prevents the Seedpods From Developing

The development of seedpods might seem beneficial at the outset. However, unlike some plants whose developing seedpods may benefit them, for tulips, it is an entirely different picture. As you probably know, tulips are capable of producing their own seeds and they can even grow from the same seeds. Unfortunately, this growth is a long story as it might take several years to happen. Since the seeds of tulips rarely resemble their parent plants, they often tend to be unpredictable.

Contrary to the seeds, the bulbs of tulips exhibit faster growth patterns, especially when planted during the winter or fall months. If you plant these plants at this time, you can expect a beautiful bloom, the coming spring.

Tulips tend to bloom during varying times of the year. However, it all depends on the variety. That is why it is imperative to educate yourself about the variety of tulips even before you proceed to grow them.

2. Boosts Reproduction

At this point, you are probably wondering how deadheading can help in reproduction when they are stunting the growth of the seed pods. But since tulip is a unique plant, this is truly the case. When you deadhead this plant, you inadvertently end up promoting asexual reproduction. This process also enables the plant to drive their entire attention to storing the excess energy which further develops the tiny bulbs.

When you deadhead your tulips more often, they also tend to spread extensively. After 12 to 14 months, you can even expect the bulb of the tulip to produce two to five extra bulbs. In case your flowerbed is excessively crowded during the autumn or fall months, dig up the bed and separate the dormant bulbs. You will now notice the plant developing really soon. So, all it practically takes is to separate the bulbs.

Note: Since certain variants of tulips aren’t fertile, it is best to study about your specific variety of plants before you proceed to deadhead it.

3. Boosts Growth

While tulips are conventionally known to be perennials, over the years, their varieties have assumed the status of annuals. Why? Well, because you won’t find some of the varieties in the coming years. Deadheading tulips is an excellent way to avoid this issue. As you do this, you can be almost confident that the variety will bloom in the following years. By removing the spent bulbs and flowers, you are giving the plant the much-needed opportunity to drive its entire energy on the bulbs instead of making more seeds.

For better results, you can also team up deadheading with flower picking. Consider picking those perennial variants that you want again in the coming year, and when done the right way, you will certainly achieve your expected results.

When Should You Deadhead Tulips?

Tulips should be ideally deadheaded after the plant achieves a full bloom or when its leaves start developing yellowish foliage. While deadheading the tulips, make sure the leaves are kept intact. It is best to allow them on the plant for about 5 to 6 weeks after the entire flowering process. This imbues the plant with the much-needed energy that further boosts the following years’ flowering process. You can finally prune off the excess foliage when they start developing a yellowish or blackish hue.

Note: In case you grow tulips annually, dig their bulbs and make sure they are disposed of when the flowers of the plant have withered away. In case your plant shares its bed with others like hyacinths and daffodils, the latter group can also benefit from proper and timely deadheading.


What Should You Do After Deadheading Tulips?

In case you do not want your tulips to bloom the following year or are planning to get a new bunch of bulbs, consider digging them up right after deadheading. Ideally, you should consider purchasing the new bulbs in the fall months since this is right before you are completely ready for planting them. If, however, you want your plants to come back in the coming year, there’s nothing much to do after the deadheading process, at least for a few months.

During these months, avoid overwatering the tulips as it might cause the bulbs to rot. Finally, when fall arrives, apply plenty of fertilizer or high-quality mulch to the flowerbed for better and consistent insulation. If you live in hot areas, like hardiness zones 8 to 10, dig your bulbs and store them in your refrigerator for a couple of months. The fall month is vital to the tulip’s life cycle as it helps preserve energy for the coming months.

Should You Deadhead Tulips After Flowering?

If you want to enjoy the same blooms every year, you can definitely consider the prospect of deadheading tulips after the flowering process. To begin with the task, you first need to lift the bulbs gently. Use the hand fork for the task and make sure you only lift them after the flowering process.

Once you are done removing the bulbs, proceed to remove the foliage and then snap the stem off with a pair of scissors. Now, take a sharp tool and gently remove the flaky external cover from the bulbs. Allow it to dry for a couple of days by storing it in a paper bag. In case the offset bulbs have already been formed, pull them out with a gentle snap. Next, store them with their parent bulb in a small paper bag. Make sure the spot where you store them is cool, dry, and free from the tiniest traces of frost.

After keeping it for a while, plant the offsets in a deep container (at least 20 to 25 cm) during the autumn months. You will find the bulbs of the species naturally self-seeding in your garden. You can now avoid deadheading at this stage as this will enable the seed to beautifully disperse, boosting the growth of new plants.

Well, now that you are duly well-informed of whether or not you should consider deadheading tulips, what’s keeping you waiting? Follow our guidelines and deadhead these pretty little plants right away! Once you do so, you can expect beautiful and consistent blooms for years to come.

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About Arindom Ghosh

A professional writer, editor, blogger, copywriter, and a member of the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors, New York. He has been part of many reputed domestic and global online magazines and publications. An avid reader and a nature lover by heart, when he is not working, he is probably exploring the secrets of life.