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To-Dig-Up-Tulip-Bulbs-or-Not-THUMB.jpg

To Dig Up Tulip Bulbs or Not

We planted our first tulip bulbs last year and now we’re confused. One neighbor digs hers up when they’re done blooming in the spring, while another leaves his in the ground. Who’s right?

Many of the hybrid tulips are bred for a beautiful floral display but not longevity in the garden.  Some gardeners and landscape professionals plant them as annual crops replacing them yearly or every other year to insure the maximum spring show.  In the past botanical and estate gardeners would dig bulbs in the spring so they could be replaced with showy annuals.  These bulbs were stored in a root cellar or other cool dark place for summer.  They would replant the stored bulbs in the fall.  Most of us do not have these ideal storage conditions or the time to fuss.  Northern gardeners can leave their bulbs in the ground year round.  Southern gardeners may need to purchase pre-cooled bulbs if their winter temperatures don't provide the chill many bulbs need to bloom.  Start planting your bulbs in fall when the night temperatures stay between 40 and 50 degrees.  This is usually October in the North and Midwest. You can plant until the ground freezes though bulbs prefer several weeks rooting time. Bulb planting time usually runs from November through mid-December in the south and West, and mid-December in south Florida and other warm regions. 

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