I love my tulips, all two of them. It's such a happy state of affairs when they bloom, signifying Spring and all that follows!
For the longest time though, I didn't know what the heck to do with them once they bloomed. I knew not to cut them back because all that pretty energy they just expended in flowers needs to go back into the bulb. But, they're kind of ugly after the big show, don't you think?
Even though your tulips may have bloomed and faded away already, here in WY ours are just losing their flowers. So file this information away for next year's tulips if you're lucky enough to have an earlier Spring than wonderful Wyoming.
mrbrownthumb has a nice tutorial on this subject...let's see what he has to say because I think I adore him. When you get a chance and if you like to laugh while reading garden stuff...
Check him out, he's legit despite his proclaimed brown thumb.
When the petals on the tulip start to wilt and fall off, you can start the tucking them in for the summer. The petals will fall off one by one until just the stem and the seed pod are left.
Now is a the time to do a little trimming. Snip off the stem just above the highest set of leaves. Don't cut off any leaves and definitely not the entire stem. For the next few weeks your tulips will look like H E double toothpicks but, we just have to deal with it. As I mentioned earlier...this is how the bulb re-energizes itself. It's okay to continue to fertilize your tulips as long as there's foliage.
mrbrownthumb has a shortcut that's worthy of sharing.
Above, you can see the seed pods that are left. These are what your bulb will expend energy on if you don't cut the stems back. If you like, you can easily snip off the seed pods rather than the stem. If you do cut back the stem, please make sure your garden shears are clean to prevent spread of any tulip viruses.
You may have thought of this already but if not, plant something near your tulips that will be filling out when your tulips are at their worst. I like to plant catmint (Nepata) near mine, it's getting big and boisterous about the same time my tulips are going bye bye, does a good job of hiding the brown foliage of my tulips.
Not much to it is there? Important none the less!