Why You Should Start Composting Your Tulip Bulbs

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Why You Should Start Composting Your Tulip Bulbs

Many people assume that planting tulip bulbs will result in beautiful flowers year after year. However, it’s important to know that depending on the variety of tulip and your climate, each bulb may produce only one bloom. Additionally, even if the flowers grow back in subsequent years, they may be smaller or less impressive than the first year. Although you can try to store and replant them, this is a complicated process with no guarantee of success. Instead, composting your leftover bulbs is a simpler and more reliable method, as spent tulip bulbs are valuable organic matter that can enrich your garden’s soil.

TikTok flower farmer @microflowerfarm recommends composting rather than replanting, as she doesn’t have the extra space to plant something that may not produce. Composting has several benefits, including making your soil healthier and stronger, reducing the need for chemical substances in your garden, and adding more carbon to the soil, since tulip bulbs are considered brown material. When you mix tulip bulbs into your DIY compost pile, they will break down with other organic waste materials, releasing helpful nutrients.

How to compost tulip bulbs

big compost pile in layers

Kaca Skokanova/Shutterstock

The first thing you’ll need to do when composting your tulip bulbs is to remove them from the soil. You can either do this when picking your flowers in the spring for bouquets, or you can wait until the leaves begin yellowing in the summer. Use a garden fork to carefully lift both the flower stem and the attached bulb out of the soil. After cutting off the flower stems, shake the bulbs off and wipe them clean. Spread them out and air dry them for about a week or until they are fully dry. This ensures that they don’t have any excess moisture inside that could lead to rot or mold.

Next, add them to your DIY compost. When you do this, you’re essentially adding more carbon to the mixture, since tulip bulbs are brown materials. Because of this, in order to achieve a balanced fertilizer, make sure you add green materials that are high in nitrogen like coffee grounds or grass. If you have larger bulbs, you can break them into smaller pieces so the decomposition process goes by faster. Pour everything in evenly and mix them in. Keep the compost moist because that helps organic matter break down effectively, and make sure it drains well so that the bulbs don’t rot. Once your compost pile has decomposed properly, you can use it on your garden soil to produce a healthier crop.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.