Tulip Fire

17th Apr 2023

Tulip Fire, also known as Tulip Breaking Virus is a plant virus that affects many species of the genus Tulipa. It is a form of botrytis that is caused by rotting or damaged tissue, including old bulbs, dead flower petals and decomposing leaves. It is exacerbated by very damp conditions.

What does Tulip Fire look like?

It is characterised by the breakdown and discoloration of flower petals, usually resulting in streaks or blotches on the blooms. The virus can spread through contact with infected plants, water droplets, insects and wind-borne agents.

Look out for:

  • Heavy spotting
  • Deformed foliage
  • Striped discolouring
  • Mouldy flower heads and leaves

Controlling Tulip Fire

Once it infects a plant, it often remains persistent for years. Symptoms include misshapen flowers that may have reduced size and colour intensity along with visible streaks and blotches. Other symptoms can include distorted foliage and leaf shapes which are not always seen immediately after infection.

Control measures involve removing affected plants from gardens to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as using resistant varieties when planting new tulips.

Preventing Tulip Fire

Using clean compost and pots will help but most importantly remove loose petals and dying foliage. Plus lifting tulip bulbs once they have finished flowering will help you avoid it. Do not plant tulips for at least three years in sites where tulip fire has occurred.

Chemical or systemic treatments are not effective against this virus. Monitoring and removal of affected plants is essential to prevent further spread of tulip botrytis. Proper care and maintenance can help reduce its occurrence in gardens.

Don’t be alarmed if you see some spots on your leaves. There are many malformations in tulips or bugs that will make similar marks. So don’t jump to conclusions just yet!

Tulip fire - How do I treat tulip fire?