When to lift and store tulips and bulbs

Alan Titchmarsh offers tips for planting daffodil bulbs

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Tulips will beautify any garden when they bloom in Spring. They are relatively easy-going but these bulbs can be a bit needy after they have finished flowering. Here is a guide to ensure that your tulips and other bulbs reflower year-on-year.

The best time to plant out your bulbs is between October and November to ensure that they flower in the spring from March to May.

Planting late is a traditional means of protecting bulbs against disease.

But what should you do after these beautiful blooms have flowered?

In June or at least six weeks after the end of flowering, the tulips in your garden will need your attention.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recommend that you either cut back bulb plants or replant them to ensure they re-flower the next year.

How to cut back tulips

Cutting back is a simple way to ensure that your bulbs remain healthy.

Simply cut back the dead foliage around the plant and remove it when it is dead, you can tell when the foliage has died because it should be yellow and straw-like.

Avoid being too eager to cut back, until the foliage has this appearance, you should continue to water the bulbs and feed them as normal.

If you cut back too early you risk damaging the plant and threatening its re-flowering next year.

How to lift and store tulips and other bulbs

Another way to ensure tulips re-flower is to lift and store the bulbs.

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This may sound like hard work but it will give your flowers a greater chance of success in blooming again next year than cutting back will.

Most tulips and many other bulbs are best replaced or replanted each year.

If left in the ground, it is unlikely they will re-flower after their first year.

You can either replace your bulbs entirely in the Autumn or you can lift and dry your tulip bulbs six weeks after flowering.

To do this carefully dig up your plants, clean the soil off the bulbs and bin any that may be diseased or damaged.

Allow your bulbs to dry off fully before storing.

Put them in trays, paper or net bags in a dry, warm, well-ventilated place, 18 to 20C is the perfect temperature to store them at.

Flowering can uncertain in old bulbs so it is best to use these old ones in less important beds and borders and to treat your garden with some new bulbs in the most visible areas.

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