Tulip: Fire

categories: Bulbs Ornamentals Tulip Tulip Diseases

revision date: 2023-02-07 12:00

Tulip fire damage: black sclerotia.
Tulip fire damage: black sclerotia
Photo by: R.S. Byther


Tulip fire is caused by a fungus that overwinters in soil, affected bulbs and diseased plant debris. Flowers are quite susceptible. Water soaked spots and dead spots occur on flowers. Severe infections may induce blight of entire buds and blossoms. Flower petals that drop onto leaves can promote further disease spread on the leaves. Sclerotia can develop at the base of stems and on the outer scales of developing daughter bulbs. Leaves develop small, elongated spots that appear yellow and water soaked. Leaves may distort and partially rot as spots enlarge. Infected areas eventually turn whitish-gray. The fungus attacks flowers and flower stems similarly. The grayish brown, powdery spore coating on the flowers is very noticeable. At the stem’s base and on the outer scales of bulbs, several black or dark brown sclerotia may be found. These structures carry the fungus through the winter or other harsh conditions.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Remove diseased plants and adjacent soil as soon as you spot the disease.
  • At fall digging time, examine all bulbs, discard diseased ones.
  • When disease is present, rotate tulips to new locations each year to prevent fungal buildup in soil.
  • Plant using healthy stock.
  • Remove flowers prior to petal fall.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

None recommended

Additional Images