Cut flowers and replanting potted bulbs
Hi! I planted several bulbs in a large pot last fall. I would like to use them in cut flower arrangements and then move the bulbs somewhere in the yard. I think they are mostly tulips. I am not sure best cutting practices and then when and how to replant them? Do I pull up the bulbs after cutting and replant immediately? or?
Lane County Oregon
Thank you for your question. You can cut off the flower stalk near its bottom, being careful not to nick the leaves. Assuming you want these bulbs to rebloom, leave them in the pot where they can get full sunlight. This allows the leaves to photosynthesize effectively, returning carbs to the bulb, where they will produce new flowers next year. Don't cut off the leaves until they turn yellow or brown (as 'awful' as that may look, or you will have tiny bulbs that can't flower. You want to keep them in the pot until the leaves can be removed, so the roots below the bulbs can also pull in water and nutrients. The best time to transplant bulbs is in October or November.
Find a sunny place in your garden with soil that it is easy for the roots to penetrate. Remove the bulbs from the container and separate them. Then, you can decide whether to dig holes 6-8 inches deep to plant them in, or use the technique described in this Extension article: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/10/researcher-offers-toil-free-tip-plant-tulips
In either case, add some bone meal in the hole, since it is the nutrient necessary for healthy roots to develop. Plant the bulbs 6 inches apart. Water the bulbs, but don't let them sit in soggy soil. Next year, albeit without the container, you should have new flowers, but you may need to divide every 2-4 years so the bulbs grow and don't compete with each other.
Thank you so so much for your response! Everything makes sense. Gardening seems like a wonderful response to being quarantine. Our local nursery is even delivering.
Any tips on cutting? When in the blooming phase (for tulips in particular) should I cut them?
Here is what one hort professor recommends: https://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/cuttulip.html