Can my tulip plant be saved? How?
March 12, 2008 7:36 PM   Subscribe

The leaf tips are turning brown. Are my tulip plants dying?

I got a few bulbs in a small planter for Christmas. In short order, some stems (stalks?) emerged from the soil. They were green and robust.

Somewhere along the way, the growth decelerated, and the ends of the stalks turned brown. I (foolishly, perhaps) replanted them in a larger pot with some fresh soil. I may have damaged the root structure a bit when I transplanted the bulbs, but I don't believe I did a whole lot of damage. Either way, the browning has continued. As it stands, I have three or four reedish six-inch sprouts, two string-ish six-inch sprouts, and a handful of shorter reedish sprouts emerging from the soil. The long reeds have gone brown at the top, sthe short reeds and strings have wilted a fair bit.

Some resources say to trim the brown, some say to give more water, some say to keep the brown, some say to give less water, some say to give more light, et cetera.

So, I guess my question is:
1. What should I do?
And my other questions are:
2. Can I keep it outside when the nights are near-freezing?
3. Is there a reliable web resource for plant care?
posted by Kwantsar to Science & Nature (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you may have stressed them out at a crucial time when replanting. Tips can turn brown from a number of things- with potted plants, I usually think fertilizer burn. You may also be overwatering- bulbs as a rule need good drainange and the top couple inches of soil should be allowed to dry out before watering again. Were these bulbs already planted in a pot when you got them? What's also strange to me is that most tulips send up pretty wide leaves, not stringy or reedy (unless they're species tulips). It also sounds like you're growing them indors, which is not gong to be enough light for tulips, unless they're in a greenhouse. You can't put them outside now though, because they'll just freeze.

Water infrequently, let them go yellow so that they aborb whatever remaining nutrients are still in their leaves. I doubt they'll bloom, but you can store them in a cool dry place until it's planting time in fall of next year, then plant them outside in a good sized pot or the ground. If they haven't lost all their energy this year, they'll come up again.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:34 PM on March 12, 2008

along the lines fertilizer burn brown tips on the leaves in some plants can be a chemical burn from other sources. Some of the more sensitive plants... and some not so sensitive (my bamboo) will get tip burn from the chlorine and addititves in tap water. Perhaps if you tried a filter or used bottled water it might help? The brown won't go away but it might stop it from happening in new leaves.
I dunno just a suggestion.
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 6:44 AM on March 13, 2008

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