Tulip bulbs are perhaps one of the easiest plants to propagate as they do all the hard work themselves. There are generally two ways that you can increase stocks of these stunning plants and that’s either by seed collection or by removing the smaller offset bulbs formed at the base of the parent bulb. The advantage of using offset bulbs is that because they are genetically identical, they will grow true to the parent plant. Unfortunately collecting seed from modern cultivated bulbs will normally result in further hybridisation making these new plants genetically different. Of course with wild species bulbs such as Tulipa tarda and Tulipa sprengeri, seed grown plants will still grow true to the parent plant.

During the tulips annual growth cycle an apical buds will develop at the base of the parent bulb, and one of these will grow on to become next years flowering bulb. Unfortunately with tulips, once the parent plant has finished flowering its bulb begins to die back, transferring it valuable stored of carbohydrates and nutrients to it progeny. Once the parent bulb has disintegrated it will leave a replacement, large flowering bulb along with a cluster of smaller bulbs.

In the autumn, carefully lift this tulip ‘family’ and gently detach all the bulbs. Next, plant all the bulbs into a fertile, free draining soil at approximately twice their own depth. Try to choose a site that has an open and sunny location away from excessive damp and strong winds.

Although the new parent bulb will flower next year the new bulbs won’t be mature enough to produce flowers until at least the following year.

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