What to do with forced bulbs after bloom?

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This question actually came from a reader, but I didn't know the answer because I don't do indoor plants. She got her tulips to bloom indoors, but doesn't know what to do with them after they stop blooming. Anyone have advice?

-- Xeney (garden@xeney.com), March 11, 1999


I always thought that most people tossed tulips after a year because it didn't get cold enough in their area to make them bloom again the next year. I assumed that somewhere on earth it got cold enough that they came back year after year! I agree, though, that they rarely come back as nice the second year, if they come back at all, at least in my part of California. Same with hyacinths.

But I have to emphatically disagree about paperwhites! They do very well outdoors and are as easy to grow as other kinds of narcissus. They look beautiful in a windowbox.

I planted tulips this year and they're just about to bloom -- but I probably will replace them with daffodils next year.

-- Xeney (garden@xeney.com), March 12, 1999.

I would give them a few months to recuperate and store up more energy. Place them in places where they can build that resource of energy that required them to bloom in the first place. Then, stick them in the ice-box for the prerequisite amount of time and you can force them again. It works best with grow lamps on them, and sometimes you can get them to do three or four blooming seasons in the span of two years depending on the species.

Most of the time, people just plant them outdoors and enjoy them as outdoor bulbs.

Just don't overstress your bulbs.

-- Eileene "Iko" Coscolluela (iko@woolgathering.net), March 11, 1999.

Tulips: many gardeners think of these as annuals even when planted outdoors! I'd not bother with trying to keep them around. Plant them if you have a place for them, or else toss 'em.

paperwhites: definitely throw them away.

The basic idea is don't feel guilty about getting rid of them! (you are allowed to throw gift poinsettias away, too)

-- Anita Rowland (anitar@halcyon.com), March 12, 1999.

I have planted forced bulbs (bought in the grocery store even) and had them come back the next year - look for a place in your yard that serves the need of the bulbs and try it out- nothing to loose. Also local garden clubs have people who will baby plants -

-- Celine (kittenfu1@yahoo.com), February 04, 2003.

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