Where have all the flowers gone?
June 29, 2015 7:33 PM   Subscribe

When cities change their landscaping in those center-boulevard planters for a new season, what happens to the old flowers?

You know the drill: tulips and crocuses in spring, petunias and weird leaves in summer, mums in fall... What do the landscaping firms do with all the spent tulip bulbs?

I mean, if they take them back, winter them, and replant them, bully for them! But if they're lazy, and throw a few tons of soil-clumped vegetation away... Someone frugal might as well acquire some extra bulbs a/o flowers late some night....
posted by IAmBroom to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I don't know about tulip bulbs but in Brisbane at least the deracinated vegetation goes straight to the transfer station and gets put in a special separate pile for green waste and then gets smashed up into mulch/compost for reuse.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:38 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

In DC I know they used to throw out the tulips from the flower beds kinda near thewhite house. People i know used to go and pick them up for their gardens.
posted by oneear at 7:56 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

In Chicago, the tulip bulbs are pulled up after blooming and given away on a first come basis. (At least this was the case ~3 years ago.)
posted by she's not there at 8:19 PM on June 29, 2015

Best answer: In my city they will post when there are extra flowers or bulbs to pick up for free - usually on the city's facebook, but also, if you have a DPW email list, sign up for that.

I suspect this answer depends a lot on your city, so maybe this is a question to direct at your city government for local specifics.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on June 29, 2015

We pull the tulips out and put them in the compost heap. (where the deer quite happily eat a lot of them). We do not publicize this because it could mean us having to spend days supervising tulip handout during a very busy time of the year.

The reasoning for pulling out mass plantings of tulips is that the ones you see in city plantings are not bred for stamina. You'd get a percentage of them coming up the following year and in a mass planting that looks like crap. Species tulips and some selected other tulips might be left in in some situations.

They're also a pain to plant other things on top of.

Annuals are similarly pulled out and put on the compost heap. They wouldn't make it through the winter.

Mums are treated carefully to make that nice gumdrop shape and would not return the following year looking the same way. They'd also take up a lot of space during the other seasons where you want other things there looking pretty.

The public gets cranky if there's not a big flower display. Foliage is looked down upon.

If you see guys pulling tulips, ask them for them. They'll probably be fine if you have a nice big ikea bag or something to take them.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:53 AM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

In my city they sell the bulbs. On one day the public is allowed to dig them up, and they're supposed to bag as many as they buy for the city to sell to people who don't show up to dig. Most of the stuff is just composted though. Landscapers are happy to let you take it if you catch them at it though; I got a bunch of hostas that way.
posted by metasarah at 7:41 AM on June 30, 2015

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