Tulips are not conventionally grown as houseplants. However, they can be “forced” to bloom indoors by mimicking their natural growing conditions. Enamored by their spectacular blooms, most growers wonder if they can make their indoor tulips rebloom and save the hassle of buying new bulbs every season.
Most indoor tulips do not rebloom because forced bulbs spend almost all their energy on the first bloom. However, some non-hybrid species can rebloom many times as garden plants in regions with cool winters. Most tulip varieties lose vigor and produce increasingly smaller blooms through the years.
Getting your tulips to rebloom can be an exciting cbnohallenge to undertake. The trick is to buy those varieties known to rebloom and then nurture the bulbs and the plants throughout the growing phase. I will explain in this article how you can get tulips to rebloom by preserving the bulbs, making potted plants last longer, and prolonging the flowers for a lasting winter display.
How Do You Get Tulips to Rebloom?
You can get tulips to rebloom by ensuring you preserve the bulbs properly after the plants have bloomed. You have to feed bulb food after the blooms have died and keep the plants in direct sunlight till the leaves turn brown. Then dig up the bulbs and store them in a warm, dry place.
Tulips forced and grown indoors usually use up so much of their stored food that most do not have the energy to rebloom. However, some varieties can return and reward you with a vibrant display of colors.
You can preserve your tulip bulbs and try to get them to rebloom. I have outlined the steps below:
- Buy non-hybrid bulbs. You may also try your luck with perennial varieties like botanical tulips and their cultivars known to multiply yearly. Some border tulips like the Kaufmanniana and Fosteriana tulips are known to rebloom.
- Cut back spent blooms. After the flowers have bloomed, cut back the dead blooms. Ensure that you do not damage the foliage when deadheading the flowers.
- Feed bulb food after the plants have bloomed. Add some new soil and mix bulb food in it. The nutrients help the bulbs replenish and store energy to flower the following year.
- Ensure the plants receive direct sunlight. Place the pot in direct sunlight to let the leaves photosynthesize and produce energy for the bulbs to gather fuel for another round of blooms.
- Water. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- Cut back the dry foliage. Cut back the leaves when they turn brown and wither.
- Dig up the bulbs. Use gardening forks to lift the bulbs carefully and ensure you do not damage them. Discard the ones that are withered, soft and mushy, moldy, or rotten.
- Store the bulbs. Air-dry the bulbs and put them in paper or mesh bags. Store them in a warm, dry location till you are ready to chill them for the following year.
You can choose not to dig up the bulbs. If you let the bulbs remain in the pots, ensure that you don’t water them because moisture will rot them.
Do not remove the dead blooms in species tulips. These tulips self-seed and multiply and can reward you with more plants through the years.
Tulips usually do not thrive or do well if forced to bloom in successive years. You have a greater chance of getting another round of flowers if you plant your preserved bulbs outdoors and let them bloom per their natural cycle.
How Long Do Potted Tulips Last Indoors?
Potted tulips can last from a few weeks to several months when kept indoors. They bloom 8-16 weeks after planting, and the blooms last between 15 and 30 days. The key to making your indoor potted tulips last long is to provide them with suitable soil, water, temperature, and light conditions.
You must provide your tulip bulbs with the right growing conditions to develop into healthy and robust plants that can bear large, long-lasting blooms.
Read on as I explain how to grow indoor tulips.
1. Choose a Tulip Variety That Thrives Indoors
Some tulip varieties lend better to forced blooming and do well indoors. These varieties tend to be the best types of indoor tulip species:
- The Darwin Hybrids
- Single Early
- Double Early
These varieties do not present much hassle when forcing them to bloom indoors. These plants grow robust and healthy in indoor conditions and delight you with long-lasting blooms.
Choose big, firm bulbs to ensure you get healthy and sturdy plants that can bloom more than once. Ensure that the bulbs are free of mold and mildew.
2. Use a High-Quality Potting Mix To Plant the Tulip Bulbs
Use a high-quality potting mix instead of your usual garden soil.
A commercial potting mix is free of harmful soil-borne pathogens, free-draining, and contains the ideal blend of macro and micronutrients to help your plants thrive.
You can add fertilizer to the potting mix that will release nutrients slowly to feed the plants to help them bloom and prolong the flowering period.
You can also use multi-purpose compost to plant the bulbs.
3. Chill the Tulip Bulbs
Tulip bulbs must go through a chilling period of about three to four months. During this period, the bulbs should be kept in a location where the temperature is between 40°F (4.44°C) and 45°F (7.22°C).
You can put your bulbs in the refrigerator. Choose pots that will fit in the fridge, and cover them with a plastic bag.
You have to take the bulbs out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic bag, and move them to a slightly less cold location when sprouts appear. The ideal temperature for tulips is 65°F (18.33°C).
4. Maintain the Right Light and Dark Conditions
You should ensure that you keep the tulip bulbs in the dark during the chilling period. After they have gone through the chilling period, keep them in the dark for 4-5 days until sprouts appear.
After sprouting, potted tulips require ample light to thrive. You should ensure you keep them in direct sunlight, but you must shield them from the sun’s harsh rays.
You can keep your plants on a south- or west-facing windowsill. If the sunlight is too intense during midday or afternoon, draw the curtains to temper the light.
You can also keep the pots on the porch, balcony, or patio for a few hours daily.
5. Water To Maintain Moisture in the Soil
Water the tulip bulbs thoroughly after you have planted them. Then water only when the soil feels dry.
You must not let the soil dry out completely, but do not overwater either.
A crucial part of watering is to ensure that the soil does not remain waterlogged. Keep the following in mind:
- The pot should have drainage holes at the bottom.
- Do not let water accumulate in the saucer under the pot.
- The potting mix should be well-draining.
6. Fertilize Your Tulip Bulbs
Mix fertilizer or compost into the potting soil when planting the bulbs.
If you want your tulip bulbs to rebloom, you should also feed your plants when they are growing to replenish the lost nutrients and provide energy to the bulbs.
You can use a liquid fertilizer, dilute it, and give it to your plants when watering them. Be sure to use a fertilizer made especially for flowers, such as bloom or blossom booster and organic bone meal. You can get these from many brands at your gardening store or online.
How Do You Keep Potted Tulips Blooming?
You can keep potted tulips blooming by moving the plants to a cool location every night. Although you should keep your tulip bulbs in a sunny spot during the day, you should shield blooming tulip bulbs from the sun’s harsh rays to prolong the blooms.
Below is a handy checklist of what you should do to keep your potted tulips blooming:
- Place the plants in direct sunlight during the day.
- Protect them from the harsh rays of the sun using curtains that will filter the sunlight.
- Keep the soil moist, but do not overwater.
- Add new soil or compost to replenish lost nutrients.
- Move the plants to a cooler location at night.
If you have cut your tulips and placed them in vases, the blooms will last 7-10 days. Add bloom nutrients to the water to prolong the flowering for a day or two.
What Do You Do With Indoor Potted Tulips After They Bloom?
You can store the bulbs of your indoor potted tulips if they are of a type known to rebloom. Else, you have to dig up the bulbs and compost them. However, let the bulbs of reblooming tulips remain in the pots because they self-seed and multiply.
If you have a reblooming tulip plant, you may leave them in a sunny spot in their pot after blooming until the leaves die back naturally. This process will ensure that the bulb can store energy for the following year’s growth.
A pot full of colorful blooms during winter is a joy to behold. Knowing how to make tulip bulbs rebloom will spare you the hassle of buying new bulbs every season and help you save money, especially if you want to own many plants.
To make tulips rebloom, you must ensure that the bulbs do not exhaust their energy after the first blooms. You have to feed the bulbs to replenish the lost energy and take care of the plant so that it remains healthy and can photosynthesize to produce food for the bulb.