How long do tulip bulbs last unplanted? Bulbs work differently than flowers and plants. It’s crucial to plant them in the UK correctly at the right time. But what happens if you forgot to plant your tulip bulbs? How long do they last unplanted?
Short answer: Tulips bulbs generally last about a year, and if you plant them after that, they might not be able to produce high-quality flowers. However, how long they last unplanted depends on the storage conditions.
How Long Do Tulip Bulbs Last Unplanted?
Long answer: As mentioned, bulbs are different from seeds; they don’t have an indefinite shelf life, so you need to plant them when you can. You don’t have to worry about your seeds going wrong because you can plant them at any time. On the other hand, you need to store bulbs to keep their quality longer appropriately.
How long your tulip bulbs last depend on how you store them. It’s essential to store them correctly at the right temperature, and they’ll last an entire year. Flowers that bloom in spring (like tulips) last longer since they’re the toughest of all and could survive 12 months without being planted.
Even though bulbs are different, they’re still plants, and they’re full of many nutrients. The flower inside the bulb is waiting to bloom once you plant them. Gardeners in the UK should provide the same conditions for your bulbs to survive.
How to Tell If Your Bulbs Are Still Good
If you’ve come across old tulip bulbs, you may be wondering if they’re good enough to be planted. Here’s how you can tell whether bulbs are good to not:
Tip #1: Check for moulds
Inspect the bulbs if there are any moulds. If it has, you should throw them out.
Tip #2: Smell the bulb
Don’t plant any of the bulbs if they smell rotten or foul.
Tip #3: Squeeze the bulb
Gently squeeze the bulb. If it feels mushy or destroyed, it’s not good enough to be planted. On the contrary, it’s also not good enough if the bulb is dried and shrunken.
Tip #4: Cut the bulb
Cutting up a bulb open is a great way to see if they’re suitable for planting or not. However, you should only do this if you have an extensive collection of bulbs that were in storage together. Get one from that batch and cut it in the middle to see the stem or flower bud. If it’s brownish, rotten, and lighter, you’ll need to throw them away along with the other bulbs from the same storage.
Tip #5: See if it floats
Fill a pail with water and throw your tulip bulbs in the bucket. If it floats, it’s an indication that your bulbs are rotten and lighter than healthier bulbs. So, it’s best to throw these bulbs away.
How to Properly Store Your Tulips Bulbs
Now that you know how to check your bulbs, the next step is to figure out how to store them properly. Tulips bulbs should generally be stores in a cool and dark place away from sunlight. It would help if you also didn’t put them on areas where they’ll get warmth, like on top of refrigerators.
Garage and basements are the best places to store them. In this way, they’ll be cool yet not freezing nor warm with the ideal temperature of 40 degrees F. They need this cooling period before they’re ready to be planted during spring planting season. Please place them in a cardboard box layered with newspapers to keep them dry and dark. It also helps regulate the temperature.
Why Should You Plant Your Tulip Bulbs in a Greenhouse?
Once you’ve divided to plant your bulbs, you should consider planting them in a mini greenhouse. Here are some of the reasons why you should:
Protection from pests that harm tulip bulbs
Aphids, thrips, bulb flies, bulb mites, and other pesky insects can munch on your tulip bulbs. Regularly examine your bulbs for infestations and apply preventive measures to ensure your plants stay pest-free. However, growing them inside a mini polytunnel significantly lowers the risk of attracting pests, and they’ll remain safe inside the enclosure.
Start growing your bulbs early
With the help of heating or cooling systems and other natural ventilation, you can help regulate the temperature inside the greenhouse. The control means you can create a microclimate suitable for your plants. In this way, you’ll be able to plant and pick tulips at any time of the year.
Protection from bad weather
Tulip bulbs are delicate. When subjected to heavy rain, high winds, and excessive heat, it can stunt the growth of your flowers or, worse, kill them—planting your bulbs inside a polytunnel ensures that your flowers will grow strong and safe from unpredictable weather. When the weather gets better, you can then transplant your tulips in your British garden.
Conclusion: How Long Do Tulip Bulbs Last Unplanted?
So, how long do tulip bulbs last unplanted? If you store them properly, your tulip bulbs can last up to a year. However, this doesn’t mean you should keep them in storage for 12 months. If the season in the UK is correct, it’s best to plant your bulbs right away. The longer you wait, the greater chances of rot and other issues to develop.