Tulips with the Bulbs On: What's It About?

Everybody is always asking: Why do we leave the bulbs on the tulips at our flower farm?

The short answer is that bulbs continue to feed the flower when they're attached. Think of them as a big bag of snacks for the bloom, the ultimate flower food.

This time of year, all of our tulips are grown hydroponically — in trays of water, that is. The bulbs are so clean, never having touched soil.

At our flower farm, we let the flowers develop under lights until they reach the perfect stage for harvest. We transfer them to our cooler with the bulbs still attached. The cold temperature and darkness keep them dormant. When we pull them out of the cooler again, the bulb feeds the flower development.

We're a wedding florist and event florist, so the bulbs aren't always a good fit for our floral work. For arrangements and events, we cut the bulbs off, of course. They don't fit in our daintier vases. 

For you, however, we think it's nice to leave them on so you can get the full experience if you want it.

If you like the way they look, display them proudly in a glass vase.

If you think they're ugly, or if they don't fit in your favorite vase, cut them off.

They might provide you with an extra day or two of vase life, so it's really not a big deal to cut them off if they're messing up your aesthetic. 

There is absolutely no shame in removing the bulbs. We're not charging extra for them. You're not under any obligation to keep them! 

OK, now for the question you've been waiting for: Can you replant the bulbs?

Answer: You can try.

We don't replant tulip bulbs. Remember the idea that the bulb is a big bag of snacks? Well, this year's bloom has eaten most of the snacks. There's probably not enough food to support a bloom next year.

That being said, the food supply will regenerate over the next couple of years, and eventually, you might get another bloom.

So it doesn't hurt to replant them. I have customers who tell me they did it, and it worked!

If you want to replant them, you can do it now. Dig a hole about six inches deep and cover them with soil. Tulips prefer full sun and very good drainage. We wish you luck in your endeavors to get another bloom!

Bonus points for those who have enjoyed their tulips bulb on in the vase: You can put the stem and leaves and bulb, all attached together, into the soil. Bury the bulb about 6 inches deep and let the stem and leaves stick out. Yes, you have just planted a spent flower. But the sugar from the leaves will go back down into the bulb over time, replenishing the snack bag.

I don't recommend planting the bulbs with the fresh bloom attached. I think you will enjoy it more in the house. But I also have customers tell me they have done this, to which I say, "It's your journey."

If you don't want to replant, the compost is a great place for your spent bulbs. The trash is also a fine and normal place to put them.

Whatever you decide, I hope you have loads of fun with tulips this year. Our supply is limited at the moment, but check back often for more!Tulip Columbus