The Q&A Archives: Tulip flower

Question: Last fall I planted tulips (from Amsterdam). They began to flower beautifully. A few days later, I noticed it appeared that the heads (flower) of all of them were eaten off. Do squirrels do such things? Do I remove the remaining stems? How do I get color back in that area until the tulips re-appear next Spring?

Answer: Tulips bloom just once a year, in the spring. Unfortunately, it sounds like squirrels or some other animal ate the flowers, or the blooms may have faded quickly -- they last only about a week at most. There is -- sadly -- no way you can get more flowers from the tulips this year.

However, you must allow the foliage to continue to grow and then turn brown and dry up before you remove it. This process rebuilds the bulbs so they can bloom again next spring. Once the flowers are finished (or eaten) you may remove the flower stems, but not the leaves.

For color in that area you might plant annuals such as marigolds or petunias in between the bulbs. They will grow larger and begin to hide the fading tulip foliage and should bloom until frost.

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