Q What is tulip fire?
A Tulip fire (Botrytis tulipae) is a fungal disease that affects tulips. It's sometimes called tulip blight.
Caption: Tulip fire ruins your tulip display.
Q What are the symptoms of tulip fire?
A The signs to look for are stunted or twisted leaves as the foliage emerges. If the leaves do open, they are often ragged, with brown spots and the 'scorched' appearance which gives the virus its name. Flowers bear similar symptoms. There's sometimes a fuzzy grey mould, especially in damp weather. Tiny black seed-like structures called sclerotia form in the dead foliage and can contaminate the soil for several years.
Caption: Tulip fire causes twisted or stunted leaves.
Q What should I do if I see tulip fire on my plants?
A If you notice signs of blight on emerging tulips, as soon as possible remove them carefully, preferably in dry weather when the fungus isn't producing spores, and burn them. Whatever you do, don't add them to your compost heap.
Q Are there any chemical controls for tulip fire?
A No, there are not.
Q Can I plant tulips where there's previously been tulip fire?
A Tulip fire lives in the soil so unfortunately you can't replant with tulips for at least three years. You can still plant tulips in containers, or in containers that you sink into the ground and remove after flowering. And you can also get a colourful spring display from other spring bulbs such as alliums, Dutch iris or hyacinths.
Caption: Planting tulips in containers allows you to carry on growing tulips.
Q Can I do anything to avoid tulip fire occurring?
A Buy large, healthy bulbs from a reputable supplier and discard any with scabby spots, mould or bruising.
Caption: Buy good-quality bulbs to help avoid tulip fire.