Monty Don details ‘best’ method to deadhead tulips in May

Alan Titchmarsh shares what to do with tulips when flowers fall

Tulip bulbs are usually planted in autumn from September to November when the plant is dormant. At this time of year, the plant is in full bloom with beautiful multicoloured flowers.

However, as the month draws on, tulip flowers will shrivel up and could start to develop seed heads if they’re not deadheaded.

With this in mind, gardening expert Monty Don has shared the “best way” to “deadhead” tulips this month.

He wrote on his blog: “If you have tulips growing in borders, deadhead them once they are past their best.

“This will stop the development of seed so that all the energy goes into forming new bulbs for next year’s flowers.

“The best way to deadhead them is simply to snap off the spent flower with the growing seed pod using your fingers.

“Do not cut back the stem or any of the foliage as this will all contribute to the growing bulbs as they slowly die back.”

Deadheading is a necessary step as it stops the plants from wasting energy on developing seed heads.

However, some specialist tulip varieties don’t need to be deadheaded as these can be grown from seed.

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If this is the case, wait until the seed heads have completely ripened.

Some tulips can produce three to four new bulbs from the mother bulb after a couple of years, according to Garden Tabs.

In the following seasons, they can produce more tulips and then more bulbs.

Tulip bulbs can be lifted, dried and stored over the summer months to improve their ability to reflower.

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The bulbs should be lifted after the foliage has turned yellow which is around six weeks after it has flowered.

They can be lifted earlier but the whole plant or bulb will need to be put into a tray until the leaves have dried up.

Bulbs cannot be stored and kept if they show signs of damage or disease; they need to be thrown away.

It’s important to note that reflowering isn’t guaranteed in the second year so these should be planted in less important beds, borders and containers.

For the best display, replace tulip bulbs with new ones every year.

Tulips like to be planted in full sun in nutrient-rich soil and can produce an array of colourful blooms including white, yellow, blue, purple, pink, red and purple.

There are also a variety of shaped tulips, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), with viridiflora, double, lily-flowered and parrot forms.

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