When you see brindle colours on your tulips, do not celebrate. You actually got problem.


Today, we shall focus on the most common diseases of tulips but which are not obvious at first glance. You may not even know that something is wrong. For example, the tulip breaking virus is welcomed by many gardeners because it makes their tulips look unique.

In addition to this virus, you may also encounter Botrytis tulipae, which you often and unknowingly bring home from a garden shop. And how can you fight these tulip disasters? Well, we shall tell you in the following lines.

Get rid of tulips that display a mix of colours – even if they look super nice

The tulip breaking virus remained undiscovered for a long time. These typically yellow and red flowers have long been admired and the colour pattern was attributed to a special variety of tulips. Gardeners even tried to propagate this ”special” variety. But do not be fooled. This virus will slowly but surely degrade your plants and will eventually kill them.

As soon as you notice something like that you must intervene immediately. Do not wait until the infected plants finish flowering and remove them immediately – before aphids attack your plants, because aphids may spread the virus to other plants… or you may spread it – for example when cutting flowers.


Photo: Pixabay

The source of the infection often includes white lilies growing near your tulip bed. White lilies do not show symptoms of this disease but they can carry it and spread it around. Unfortunately, there is no chemicals you can use to fight this disease. You can only fight aphids to stop the spread.

Botrytis tulipae can ruin all your tulips

It attacks only tulip leaves at first and turns them into dry pieces. Later, it attacks flowers and then it destroys the entire plant. It also spreads easily. You can recognize this virus by removing the top brown skin of the bulb. If you find gray spots on white onion underneath the removed layer, you know for sure that you are dealing with Botrytis tulipae.

In such scenario, throw the bulb away! Do not try to save it or anything like that, because it would infect other healthy plants. Adult infected plants show small black hemispherical formations at the beginning. Many gardeners think that they got (Parthenolecanium) known as the true bug, but no. These formations are the product of Botrytis tulipae. Make sure to get rid of infested plants immediately including the surrounding soil . If necessary, use fungicidal chemicals, but unfortunately, they do not work well every time… As soon as you see the tips of tulips spray them with a suitable fungicide chemical and continue to do so every 10-14 days until flowering.

Our tip: Botrytis tulipae often attacks over fertilized plants or those that have been damaged in some way (e.g.by harsh weather). If healthy tulips are attacked by spores they will show dots on leaves or petals. If that is the case, spraying with suitable chemicals can still help.

After flowering you can spray… but follow a twenty-day interval and in autumn, when you dig bulbs out, check them and dispose of those where the disease is still visible. No mercy. To prevent the spread of Botrytis tulipae next year , plant tulip bulbs in a different location and don’t forget to properly soak bulbs before planting.

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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