Netherlands Flower Bulb Information CenterTulips grown inside in water-filled containers probably won’t rebloom a second year.

Q: In February, I bought a beautiful group of tulips in a glass container that has little “pockets” for each bulb to grow in water indoors. They did fantastic. Now the leaves have yellowed and are dying back. My question is how do I store the bulbs with the goal of putting them back into this glass container to bloom again next spring?

A: You’ll have much better results buying new tulip bulbs (or other bulbs) next fall. Your indoor-grown, water-fed tulips face two big challenges: recharging and chill time.

Your existing bulbs aren’t likely to do well because they haven’t sufficiently recharged themselves. Indoor light isn’t nearly as intense as the sun, and your water didn’t supply much nutrition.

The weeks just before and just after blooming are critical for bulbs because that’s when the foliage is manufacturing sugars that are stored in the bulb to produce for the next round of flowering (photosynthesis).

Most tulips aren’t terribly good about coming back year after year anyway, even when grown outside. Depending on variety, sometimes you’ll only get a good year or two out of them.

But let’s assume your tulips managed to manufacture enough energy to produce another of flowers. To trigger a new round of bloom, they’ll first have to undergo enough chill time to simulate winter. This is what people in hot climates have to do, by the way, in order to grow tulips outside in spring.

Tulips need at least 10 to 12 weeks of temperatures down to 40 degrees or less in order to get the weather cue they need to “think” they’ve been through winter.

The easiest method is just to store the tulips in a mesh or paper bag in the vegetable bin of a refrigerator. Some fruits (especially apples) give off ethylene gas that can cause bulbs to rot, so store the tulips only with veggies.

After 3 months, remove the bulbs, set them in the glass container, add water, and in 3 to 4 weeks you should see flowers.

Another option is to pot the tulip bulbs in a light-weight potting mix and set them out in October in a window well, unheated garage or patio. Or bury them in a hole surrounded by leaves. Give them enough water to keep the soil mildly damp if you chill them above ground and not buried. (Rain usually keeps buried tulip pots damp enough.)

After 3 months of this chilling, gently remove the tulips from the pots, rinse off the potting mix and set them back in your glass container. You’ll probably even see the tips emerging by then when you bring them in.

Most tulips in garden centers haven’t been chilled when you buy them in fall. If you just put them in your container immediately, they most likely wouldn’t do anything — or at least wouldn’t flower.

Of all the bulbs, tulips are probably the most varied in size and colour, ranging from dainty dwarf specimens to frilly, feathery forms and stand-up-straight majestic types.

They don’t need planting as early as narcissi or snowdrops. In fact, tulips shouldn’t be planted before the end of October, as early planting will result in soft growth which is susceptible to the fungal disease, tulip fire.

1. Best grown alone

If you’re growing them in pots, generally they are best grown alone because they don’t survive a typical summer without being lifted and dried off after flowering.

2. Stand-alone or combinations

If you want a stand-alone colour and type of bulb, consider sowing grass seed on the surface soil once you’ve planted the bulbs, which will create a swathe of green as the bulbs emerge, avoiding visible empty pockets of soil.

However, you can achieve some gorgeous combinations which could also help hide the unsightly appearance of the bulbs once they have finished flowering and are starting to look straggly.

Variegated dwarf ribbon grass, for example, is an excellent pairing with the deep burgundy Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’. The grass makes a terrific foil for the almost-black tulip flowers and will last long after the blooms have gone.

3. Planting in pots

If you are planting a single layer of bulbs, fill the pot to within four or five times the depth of the bulb from the top of the pot.

You can plant the bulbs closer together in a pot than you would in the ground, leaving them around 1cm apart if they are small tulips, but a bit more space for varieties with larger blooms.

Then fill the rest of the pot with compost, up to around 3cm from the top of the rim. Also, be aware that tall bulbs in shallow containers don’t generally succeed.

4. Make sure soil is well drained

When planting, the most important thing is that the soil is well drained.

Add a handful of grit to multi-purpose compost at planting time and place crocs, small stones or broken pieces of polystyrene plant trays in the base and ensure you have drainage holes in the container.

Stand the pot on feet to stop autumn and winter moisture seeping in upwards from the ground and rotting the bulbs.

5. Keep them out of the bad weather

In severe winter weather, move the pots closer to the house so they escape the worst of the excess wet and chilling wind.

But once the days become slightly warmer in early spring, move them out into the open and don’t let the pots dry out or you’ll be left with stunted foliage and poor flowers.

6. Water periodically

Once the bulbs are in full leaf growth, the pots should be watered periodically, when the compost feels dry.

7. Best tulips for pots

In deep pots you might go for tall varieties such as triumph whose stems grow up to 40cm, flowering in late spring. These include T. ‘Prinses Irene’, which has glowing orange blooms flamed with purple, and ‘Bing Crosby’, a scarlet variety.

Shorter single early tulips such as ‘Apricot Beauty’ also work well in pots, as do taller single late and Darwin tulips including ‘World’s Favourite’, a hot orange-red type, or the lily-flowered T. ‘Ballerina’, with its vibrant orange flowers which open fully on sunny days.

In fact, most tulips are perfect for pots – just avoid those with weak stems and very heavy flowers which are prone to flopping.

Many bulbs grown in pots can be left in the compost if they are kept completely dry during the dormant period in summer.

8. Frost-free greenhouse

A frost-free greenhouse or cold frame is ideal and many gardeners lay the pots on their sides.

9. They need a dry rest

Tulips must have a dry rest after flowering, so if you plant summer bedding on top of them which you are intending to regularly water all summer, don’t leave the bulbs in the container or they will just rot.

You’ll need to lift and dry them after they die down and store them safely until late autumn.

What are your tips for growing tulips? Let us know in the Comments section below.

The complete guide to Philips Hue: Bulbs, smart features and lots of colors

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Thinking about smartening up the lights in your home? Philips Hue is one of the first names you should consider.

Among all of today’s smart lighting platforms, Hue is the most well-established, the most well-developed and the most well-connected , too. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Alexa user, an Apple HomeKit fan, an IFTTT nerd, a Razer gamer, a Google Home devotee, a Logitech Harmony connoisseur, a Nest aficionado or about a bajillion other examples I could list — Philips Hue’s lights work with all of it.

If you barely understand what any of that last sentence means, don’t worry: Philips Hue is a great pick for smart lighting newbies, too. And hey, maybe that’s why you’re here. You want to know more about the platform before you buy in — especially because a lot of these lights don’t come cheap.

Read more: Philips Hue’s new Bluetooth bulbs don’t need the Hue Bridge at all

Well, we’re here to help, with everything you need to know about Philips Hue in one place: What it is, how it works, how to put it to use in your home, which bulbs to buy first — and yep, which ones are overpriced duds, too. And please note that I’ve included links to Amazon where appropriate, as well as a few of our top picks here at, well, the top — CNET may get a share of revenue from purchases made through those links. Gotta keep the lights on, right?

The most important thing to know if you’ve decided to invest in Philips Hue’s ecosystem is that you’ll need the Hue Bridge plugged into your router in order to take full control of your lights (it’s the square-shaped hub in the middle there). The newest Hue bulbs can use Bluetooth to pair directly with your phone without need for a Hue Bridge, but you’ll miss out on most all of Hue’s advanced features and integrations.

You can buy that Hue Bridge on its own, but the best way to get it is to buy a starter kit that packages it with a couple of bulbs — and the best value among those starter kits is the Philips Hue White starter kit, available with two white-light bulbs for $70 or four bulbs for $100. It’s a great way to test the platform out and learn the basics of automating your lights with the Hue app, and you can build upon it over time, adding new lights to your system whenever the ones you want go on sale. Read Philips Hue White Starter Kit review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Maybe it’s controversial to pick Hue’s relatively new light bars over the classic Hue bulbs, but if color-changing bulbs are all you want, you’ve got options from other brands that cost less. And besides, the Hue Play fixtures are perfect to hide behind a monitor or to mount beneath a shelf or on the back of a TV — sneaky smart places for color-changing accent light, and places where bulbs can’t traditionally go. They’re also really handy if you have even a casual interest in photography — a nice kick of color can really help that Instagram shot stand out.

If you’re interested in Hue Entertainment, which syncs your lights with what’s on your computer’s screen, then these lights should keep getting better over time — just know that Hue Entertainment still needs a lot of work. I also love that you can power up to three of them with a single plug, but I wish that they unplugged for battery-powered portability. And yeah, I wish that they cost slightly less, too — but waiting for a sale is par for the course with Philips Hue at this point. Read full review.

For $50, the Philips Hue Tap is a wireless four-button remote that can control your Philips Hue lights. The coolest thing about it is that it powers itself whenever you press a button, so you’ll never need to recharge it or replace its batteries.

Like the rest of the Hue lineup, the Tap also works with Apple HomeKit, which means that you can use it to trigger HomeKit-compatible gadgets from other brands, too. We’ve been using one to control the lights at the CNET Smart Apartment for a few years now, and it’s never failed us. Seriously, what’s not to like about this thing? Read full review.

All right, so what is Philips Hue?

Philips Hue is a line of smart LED light bulbs and fixtures. Each one communicates wirelessly with the Hue Bridge, a little modem-looking thing that you keep plugged into your home’s router. That connection to the cloud lets you control Hue’s lights from your phone, with a voice command via Siri, Alexa or the Google Assistant, or by automating them to turn on and off at specific times or when other devices trigger them.

Many of Philips Hue’s bulbs and fixtures can change colors upon request (hence the “Hue” branding), but some are just basic bulbs that put out plain ol’ white light and nothing else. Prices range from $15 a piece for bulbs like those to $250 for a 58-inch tall Philips Hue Signe color-changing floor lamp (spoiler alert: that’s one of the overpriced duds you can definitely skip).

How do I use these lights?

To get started with Philips Hue, you plug in the Hue Bridge and connect it to your router via Ethernet cable. Then, you’ll screw in your Hue bulbs or turn on your Hue fixtures. Download the Philips Hue app to your Android or iOS device and open it up — it’ll walk you through the rest of the setup process.

Once you’ve paired your lights with the app, you sort them by room and give each one a unique name. The app (and if you’re using them, the Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant voice controls) will let you control entire rooms at once, as in, “turn on the living room.” You can control individual lights, too, which is where naming everything is important. “Turn on the desk lamp” is a lot less clunky than, say, “turn on Hue White Ambiance Bulb 4”

The Hue app comes with a number of preset “scenes” that, when activated, will automatically change all of the lights in the room. Along with basic scenes for normal, soft white and daylight-toned white light, there are multicolor scenes that will randomly apply colors from a preselected palette across all of a room’s lights. For instance, a Spring Blossom-themed scene will randomly assign shades of pink, red and white across your lights, while a Northern Lights-themed scene goes with shades of green and blue. You can make and save your own scenes in the Hue app, too, which lets you return to a custom mix of colors that you like with a single tap or voice command.

The Hue Bridge plugs into your router and sends Zigbee commands to your Hue lights. Unless you’ve got an Amazon Echo Plus, you can’t use Hue bulbs and fixtures without it.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

And how does Philips Hue work?

In a word? Zigbee.

…Oh, right, I should probably be a little more specific. Zigbee is a wireless communication technology like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can think of it as a language for smart lights to talk to each other and to their control hub. All of Hue’s bulbs and fixtures have their own built-in Zigbee radios, as does the Hue Bridge that you keep plugged into your router. Its job is to act like a Zigbee-to-Wi-Fi translator for your home network and your lights.

For instance, you send a signal to your router whenever you turn a Hue bulb on using the app. From there, the Hue Bridge translates that command into a Zigbee signal and sends it out to the bulb. All of that happens in a fraction of a second, and since the connection to your router keeps your Hue Bridge connected to the cloud, it means that you can control your lights from anywhere in the world where your phone can connect to the internet.

Wait — does Zigbee cost anything?

Nope, Zigbee isn’t like Wi-Fi in that sense. It’s more like Bluetooth. It’s a local wireless network for your home — specifically for your smart home gadgets. Once you plug the Hue Bridge into your router, screw in a Hue bulb, and pair the two together via the Hue app, the two will start using Zigbee to communicate like two kids playing with walkie-talkies. You don’t have to sign up for Zigbee service or pay a monthly Zigbee bill or anything like that.

Are those Zigbee signals secure?

Yes. Since Zigbee is a local network, none of Hue’s bulbs connect directly to the cloud, and all of their Zigbee transmissions back and forth to each other and to the Hue Bridge follow standard encryption practices, which the Philips Hue team has been developing and refining with regular firmware updates for several years now.

Speaking of the Hue Bridge, you have to connect it directly to your router with an Ethernet cable. While that’s a little less convenient than hubs that just connect to the router wirelessly, the Hue team tells us that this approach ensures that your home’s Wi-Fi credentials are never transmitted wirelessly, which would make it easier for someone to intercept them. Hue also requires users to tap the button on the top of Bridge during the initial pairing process and during setup for most third-party connections, which is an excellent way of keeping someone from taking over your system from outside of your home. On top of that, each Hue Bridge has its own unique verification key, which means that if one were ever to be compromised, the hacker couldn’t use it as a way to take over any others.

Connecting anything to the internet comes with risks, obviously, but Philips Hue has a long, solid track record of keeping its platform secure. There’s no reason to think that connecting your lights to the internet poses any more risk than connecting, say, your laptop, your phone or your TV. As always, just be sure to keep your Wi-Fi network protected with a strong password. Better yet, make a habit of updating that password every now and then.

Hue’s newest bulbs add in Bluetooth to let you try them out without need for a Hue Bridge. Other than that, they’re the same bulbs as before. The only new one is this $20 Hue White floodlight.

Chris Monroe/CNET

What about the new Bluetooth bulbs?

The new Philips Hue bulbs with Bluetooth are currently rolling out at retail. If you want them, look for packaging with the little Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner.

Ry Crist/CNET

Hue’s newest bulbs are the same basic thing as before, but they now include Bluetooth radios in addition to the Zigbee receivers. That lets you pair them directly with your phone without need for a Hue Bridge.

To do so, you’ll need to use a separate, Bluetooth-based version of the Hue app on your Android or iOS device. It’s a much more basic experience than what you’ll get if you use the full-fledged Hue app powered by the Hue Bridge. You can still turn your lights on and off from your phone, dim them up and down, and group them according to room, but you won’t be able to control them from beyond Bluetooth range without a hub, and you won’t be able to take advantage of advanced features like wake-up fades or Hue Entertainment (more on both in the next section). You also won’t be able to sync them up with most outside services, including Apple HomeKit and IFTTT.

You can, however, connect them directly with current-gen Amazon Echo speakers and with Google Home speakers and Google Nest smart displays — once you do, you’ll control them via the Alexa or Google Home apps, and turn them on and off using Alexa and Google Assistant commands.

That makes them pretty appealing for people who just want smart bulbs that their voice assistant of choice can control, and who aren’t interested in plugging a hub into their router to unlock any advanced features (and you can always add a Hue Bridge later if you decide you want it). For most users, I think the Hue Bridge is worth it from the start — especially since you can typically get it packaged in one of Hue’s starter kits for very little additional expense.

We expect to see more Philips Hue products with built-in Bluetooth radios by the end of this year — I’ll update this space as we learn more about them.

What else can these lights do?

On a basic level, smart lights like the ones from Philips Hue let you control and dim your lights using your phone, using voice commands or using automations that you set up in the Hue app or with a compatible third-party automation service like IFTTT.

The Hue Entertainment feature lets you sync your color-changing Hue lights with whatever’s playing on your computer screen.

Ry Crist/CNET

Basic automations like those let you do things like schedule your lights to turn on automatically in the morning or at sunset, or even more creative use cases, like lights that blink whenever you receive an email from an important contact. You could also connect your lights with a motion sensor, then program them to turn on automatically whenever someone enters the room.

Other, more advanced features include automatic Google Assistant wake-up lighting that can slowly fade your bedroom lights up during the thirty minutes prior to your morning Google Assistant alarm. Another recent feature called Hue Entertainment lets you set your lights to mimic the color of whatever’s playing on your computer screen in real time. Connect that computer to your living room TV for a color-coordinated movie night with the kids — that is, if you don’t find the feature too distracting.

What all does Philips Hue work with?

Like I said before, it works with quite a lot. Most notable are the voice assistants — Hue was the first smart lighting platform to hit the trifecta and sync up with Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant (and hey, Hue works with Cortana, too). Make the connection, and you’ll be able to turn your bulbs on and off, dim them up and down or trigger your scenes by asking your assistant of choice to do it.

On the Alexa front, Philips Hue also offers direct compatibility between its lights and the Amazon Echo Plus, an Alexa smart speaker with its own, built-in Zigbee radio. That means that Echo Plus owners don’t need the Hue Bridge if they want to pair Hue bulbs with Alexa — though they’ll only be able to control those Hue lights in the Alexa app and by using Alexa voice commands. If they want to use the Hue app or any of Hue’s other integrations, they’ll still need the Hue Bridge plugged into their router.

Keep an eye out for new “Friends of Hue” smart switches — when paired with Hue bulbs, your automations and voice controls will continue to work even then the switch is off.

Ry Crist/CNET

You can also add Philips Hue bulbs and fixtures to a whole lot of other smart home platforms, including Wink, Samsung SmartThings and security-minded automation systems like Comcast Xfinity Home and Vivint. Just know that for all of them, you’ll still need the Hue Bridge.

Speaking of the Hue Bridge, it also supports third-party Zigbee lights that aren’t made by Philips. That includes inexpensive smart bulbs from names like Cree and Sylvania that cost a few bucks less than Hue’s white light bulbs at retail. Just make sure that those smart bulbs send their signals using the Zigbee wireless protocol.

Something else to watch for: A growing number of smart light switches designed to connect with Hue’s light bulbs, making it so your automations and voice controls will continue to work even when things are off at the switch (with a regular light switch, cutting the power makes it so your bulbs can’t receive signals from the Hue Bridge). We’ve already tested one such smart switch, and more are expected to arrive later this year.

Philips Hue’s color-changing light bulbs cost $50 each, but you’ll often find them on sale for a little less.

Chris Monroe/CNET

OK, so tell me about those bulbs. What are my options?

You’ve got lots! Hue sells both color-changing and white-light bulbs in a variety of shapes and sizes. They include:

  • Philips Hue White LED: A pretty standard, soft white, dimmable LED smart bulb that costs $15 each. The newest versions include radios for both Zigbee and Bluetooth, which gives you basic control of the bulbs on your phone without need for the Hue Bridge. A starter kit with two bulbs and the Hue Bridge costs $70, while one with four bulbs costs $100.
  • Philips Hue White Ambiance LED: Slightly more advanced — adds in the ability to change the white light color temperature from a yellowy, candle-like glow up to bluish-white daylight tones. Still no colors, though. After recent price cuts, White Ambiance bulbs, which are available both as regular, A-shaped bulbs and as BR30 floodlights, now cost $25 each or two for $45. Meanwhile, a starter kit with four bulbs and the Hue Bridge costs $120. That’s a pretty good deal if you like color-tunable light, since it essentially gets you the all-important Hue Bridge for $20. And again, the newest versions include Bluetooth.
  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED: Also available with Bluetooth now, Hue’s flagship smart bulb does white light at any color temperature you like, plus the full spectrum of colors. They cost $50 each but go on sale frequently. Same goes for the starter kits — for instance, a kit with two bulbs and the Hue Bridge retails for $150, but is currently available on Amazon for $110, complete with a free Echo Dot.
  • Philips Hue BR30 Floodlight LED: Hue bulbs in a floodlight form that’s better-suited for overhead lighting that shines down in one direction available. New Hue White floodlights cost $20 each, while White Ambiance versions cost $25 a piece, with two-packs available for $45. White and Color versions that add in the RGB spectrum cost $50 each. All are now available with Bluetooth in addition to Zigbee.
  • Philips Hue GU10 Spotlight LED: Hue spotlight bulbs designed to replace specialty halogen bulbs with dual-pronged bases. A bit niche, and priced the same as the floodlights: $30 for a single White Ambiance bulb, $50 for a White Ambiance 2-pack, $50 for a single White and Color Ambiance bulb. A White and Color Ambiance bulb with a more traditional screw-in base is also available for $50 each.
  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Smart Bulb Candle: The name is clunky as hell, but this is just Philips Hue’s color-changing candelabra LED. Each one costs $50, which is too expensive given that you’ll almost certainly need to buy at least a couple of them to fill out a fixture.
  • Philips Hue White Outdoor PAR38 Floodlight LED: Available in a two-pack for $50, this is a weather-rated Philips Hue floodlight that you can use outdoors. It doesn’t change colors or color temperatures, but it’s rugged enough to stand up to the rain.

Geez, that is a lot. And what about the fixtures?

There’s a lot of these, too (and even more of them if you’re shopping in Europe). Among the most notable:

  • Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus: The second-gen version of the brand’s color-changing, stick-up light strips. They can go behind TVs, beneath countertops and cabinets or anywhere else you’d like via the included adhesive backing. A single 80-inch strip costs $80, with 40-inch extensions selling for $25. You can also get the Hue Bridge for free when you buy two lightstrips.
  • Philips Hue Go: It looks like a cereal bowl of color-changing light, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery so you can unplug it and take it wherever you like. Weird, but weirdly likable, and a good pick for kids because it has a physical button on it for quick, easy color changes. They cost $80 each.
  • Philips Hue Beyond: Fancy, lamp-style fixtures with built-in color-changing LEDs. Available as a $200 table lamp, a $300 ceiling lamp, or a $350 hanging pendant-style lamp.
  • Philips Hue Wellner: A weird-looking product with a weird name. It’s basically a white plastic blob of a table lamp that puts out white light at any color temperature you like. It costs $100.
  • Philips Hue White Outdoor Fixtures: Dedicated porch lights that you can mount outside your home. Each comes with its own Hue White bulb, but I’d like them better if they had built-in motion sensors. There’s the classic, lantern-style Inara fixture for $50, a more modern-looking Lucca fixture for $60 and an over-the-garage-style Ludere fixture that comes with two of Hue’s outdoor PAR38 LEDs for $130.
  • Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip: A rubbery, weatherproof version of Hue’s color-changing light strip. Not nearly as easy to mount as the indoor strips, and also a bit costlier at $90 each.
  • Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlights: Outdoor spotlights that you stake into the ground to light up your garden or your home’s exterior. Unlike the mountable fixtures mentioned above, these are fully color-changeable. A base kit with three lights and the power supply costs $280, while a single light extension kit sells for $80.
  • Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Pathlights: You stake these color-changing lights into the ground like the Lily spotlights, but they’re omnidirectional pathlights that look a bit like little lighthouses. A single light starter kit costs $130.
  • Philips Hue Signe: Probably my least favorite Hue fixture, the Signe is basically a vertical stick that casts color-changing light in a single direction. You’re supposed to aim it at your wall as an accent light, but it casts a very narrow pool of color and it doesn’t have a physical on/off button. At $160 for a 25-inch table lamp and $250 for a 58-inch floor lamp version, it’s much too expensive to recommend.
  • Philips Hue Play: A black or white plastic bar of color-changing light that you can stand up behind your computer or mount to the back of your TV. A pretty good pick for Hue Entertainment, which syncs the color of your Hue lights with what’s playing on your screen. One point of note: You need a special plug that comes in the starter kit. Each plug can support up to three lights, which can help keep your power strip from getting overcrowded. A starter kit with the plug and one light costs $70, while a starter kit with two lights costs $130. Additional lights without the plug cost $60 each.

Available for $50, the Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor tracks motion, temperature and ambient light.

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Man, OK. Is that it?

Nope! Philips Hue sells accessories for its system, too. These include:

  • Philips Hue Tap: Probably my favorite Philips Hue accessory, the Hue Tap is a $50 wireless remote for your Philips Hue lights. It doesn’t use any batteries — instead, the clever design harvests the kinetic energy of each button press, which is just enough juice to send out a low-power Zigbee signal to the Hue Bridge.
  • Philips Hue Smart Dimmer Switch: A wireless remote that can pair with up to 10 Hue lights at once for quick dimming controls. You can also mount it to the wall with the included base plate. It’s not self-powering like the Tap is, but it’s well priced at $25.
  • Philips Hue Motion Sensor: For $40, a wireless Zigbee motion sensor that can trigger your Hue lights automatically whenever you enter the room.
  • Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor: For $50, a mountable, weather-proofed version of the Philips Hue Motion Sensor that also tracks temperature and ambient light.
  • : A “Friends of Hue” partner accessory from a company called RunLessWire (and formerly known as the “Illumra”), the Click is a four-button Zigbee smart switch that pairs with your bulbs to turn things on and off, dim thing up and down or trigger scenes. What’s really cool about it is that it uses the same energy-harvesting trick as the Hue Tap, so it powers itself with each button press. That means you can install without needing to wire anything in. It costs $60.
  • Lutron Aurora: Available now for preorder at $40 each, the Lutron Aurora is another noteworthy Friends of Hue accessory that offers control over your Hue lights at the light switch itself. Instead of replacing your old light switch, the Aurora is a smart, battery-powered Zigbee dimmer knob that snaps over the light switch, locking it into the on position and preventing your kids and houseguests from cutting the power to your lights and rendering their voice controls, automations and app controls inoperable. From there, just tap it to turn whatever bulbs are paired to it on or off, or twist it to dim them up and down.

Cut to the chase. Which Philips Hue products are worth it?

Of all of these, I think most people will get the most value with a Philips Hue White starter kit, which includes the essential Hue Bridge and a couple of Hue White bulbs to get you going. A kit with two bulbs costs $70, while a kit with four bulbs costs $100. It’s enough to get your feet wet, and since it comes with the Hue Bridge included, you can build upon it, gradually expanding your setup, light by light.

The smart way to do this is to figure out which products appeal to you the most and then wait for a sale. You shouldn’t have to wait long — Philips Hue products are frequently marked down at major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Home Depot. Good deals on days like Black Friday and Prime Day are pretty much a given at this point.

To each their own, but I tend to think that color-changing bulbs are often a bit frivolous in lamps and overhead lights that you typically use as primary light sources for shared spaces (seriously, how often are you really going to want to be able to bathe your entire living room in purple?) Instead, I find that lights like these are best suited as accents that you aim at your walls wherever they might benefit from a pop of color.

That’s why I tend to like the Philips Hue Play light bars and the kid-friendly, battery-powered Philips Hue Go fixture a little bit better than the bulbs. At $60 and $80 per light respectively, they’re each a little expensive, but they fit the bill as colorful accent lights for high-tech homes. Same goes for the Philips Hue Lightstrip, though I wish that it was capable of putting out more than one color at once, like the Lifx Z Lightstrip is.

Philips Hue offers some solid accessories for its system, too. First among these in my mind is the self-powering Philips Hue Tap remote. With no need for batteries, it’s a great little gadget at $50, and a nice Apple HomeKit accessory, too.

I was also recently impressed when I tested out Philips Hue’s Outdoor Sensor, which, like the Tap, costs $50. Mount it outside your home if you want your Hue lights to turn on automatically as you’re fumbling for your keys at the front door after a long day at work. I like it for indoor use, too — even more so than the standard Philips Hue Motion Sensor. For $10 more, the Outdoor Sensor adds in sensors for temperature and ambient light.

What Philips Hue alternatives should I consider?

You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to color-changing lights, so it’s smart to shop around. Just keep in mind that no other competitor has a smart lighting platform that’s as steady or well-developed as Philips Hue.

Read more: The best color-changing smart bulbs that cost less than Philips Hue

Available for $35, the Lifx Mini is brighter and bolder-looking than Philips Hue’s White and Color LED.

Chris Monroe/CNET

That weird, greenish cyan setting for the Hue bulb in that grid above seems to be a unique issue when controlling it with Alexa. Here’s how the Hue bulb’s cyan setting looks when you’re using the Hue app, Siri or the Google Assistant.

Ry Crist/CNET

The closest is probably Lifx, a smart lighting startup out of Australia that caught fire in the crowdfunding scene several years ago. Lifx offers terrific app controls, it works with a great range of third parties, including Alexa, Siri, IFTTT and the Google Assistant, and it’s done a good job of building out a wide product lineup. Lifx products communicate using Wi-Fi, not Zigbee, so they don’t require a hub — you can just buy a single color-changing Lifx Mini LED for $35, screw it in, pair it with the app and go.

Lifx also offers color-changing LED light panels called Lifx Tiles that you can stick to your walls, similar to the likable Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panels. Philips Hue doesn’t offer anything like that for your walls.

If you just want a cheap color-changing bulb for your next party or for a game room, then a Philips Hue starter kit is probably overkill. You’d be better off with Wi-Fi alternatives that don’t need a hub.

Low-cost color-changing bulbs from names like Eufy (Anker’s smart home brand) and Kasa (TP-Link’s smart home brand) will do the job just fine, complete with Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. For a hub-free color-changer that works with Apple HomeKit, consider the Sylvania Smart Plus LED, which costs $45 at full price, but often goes on sale (as of writing this in April of 2019, it’s marked down to $23 a piece on Amazon).

Recently, GE Lighting jumped into the color-changing category with RGB smart bulbs of its own. Those are worth keeping an eye out for, too — especially if you’re a Google Assistant user, since GE bulbs are “Made for Google” products. And, while Philips Hue offers a full lineup of its own outdoor lights, you might consider waiting for Ring’s upcoming outdoor lighting lineup, which looks to have a good variety of fixtures with their own built-in motion sensors.

Originally published Apr. 16.
Update, July 22: Includes info on Philips Hue’s newest bulbs, which add in Bluetooth radios to connect directly with your phone without need for a Hue Bridge.

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Lift your tulip bulbs for next year

Posted:24 April 2011

Some bulbs, like daffodils and jonquils, are fine to leave in the ground season after season. However tulips are best dug up and left to dry out. Some tulip bulbs are not winter hardy, hence in cold climates those bulbs should be lifted and stored to be used the next season.

After flowers have finished, cut off the spent flower stems but do not cut back the foliage. Ideally leave in the ground for 2-3 weeks as the period of time after blooming is when tulips use energy to build strong bulbs for next years blooms. If you cut off the leaves before they died down naturally, the bulb will not have the reserves to grow and flower the following season. Tulips, unlike daffodils, do not require foliar feed in order to build up the bulb.

With a garden fork carefully prise them from the soil. All physically damaged bulbs should be discarded.

Wash any remaining soil off the bulb and then place as a single layer in a basket or tray that has enough air move through it. The bulbs can also be stored in a paper bag. Carefully label each bag or tray especially if you have different varieties.

Store in a dark, cool and dry place that is well ventilated. Make sure that the temperature is constant. Check regularly and remove any bulbs showing signs of mildew or rotting. Shaking the bulbs in a plastic sack with a little fungicide is a good measure of prevention.

Store until autumn when you can begin to divide the bulbs and replant. The best way to nourish your tulips is to lay down a top dressing of bone meal in the autumn to enrich the soil.

When To Dig Up Tulips: How To Cure Tulip Bulbs For Planting

Tulips are special – ask any gardener who grows the bright, beautiful blossoms. That’s why it’s no surprise that the care requirements for tulip bulbs are different than for other spring bulbs. There are over 150 different species of tulip, each with its own charms. Many are perennial, and the bulbs can be harvested every year. Digging up tulip bulbs means storing tulip bulbs until you replant them. If you want to learn about storing tulip bulbs and how to cure tulip bulbs, read on.

Do You Have to Dig Up Tulip Bulbs?

No law requires gardeners to dig up tulip bulbs each year, or at all. In fact, most bulbs prefer to stay in the ground, and, left in place, rebloom the following year. Gardeners only dig up tulip bulbs when the plants seem less vigorous and offer fewer flowers, which can indicate overcrowding.

If you feel that your tulips aren’t doing as well as they did last year, dig them up. But before you do, find out when to dig up tulips. It is better not to dig bulbs up at all then to dig them up at the wrong time.

When to Dig Up Tulips?

When to dig up tulips is just as important as how to dig them up. Digging tulips prematurely can kill them. If you want to dig up tulip bulbs, don’t be in a hurry. Even through the plants lose visual appeal once the flowers start to fade, do not get out the shovel yet.

Tulips flower in spring and, by early summer, their bright blooms are wilting. You can go ahead and deadhead the unsightly blooms, but wait until the foliage yellows to dig up bulbs.

A tulip bulb contains not only the tiny plant, but also all the nutrition that the plant needs to make it through the winter and bloom the following spring. Once tulips finish flowering, they use their leaves and roots to gather nutrients and fill up the storage containers with supplies.

Digging the bulb up too early means that the bulbs will not have had a chance to replenish their nutrient supplies. Only dig out the bulbs when you see the leaves of the plants turning yellow and wilting.

Digging Up and Curing Tulip Bulbs

Be careful when you dig up your bulbs. Use a hand trowel to dig a trench about 8 inches (20 cm.) deep around your tulip plant. Make the trench several inches larger than the plant to prevent hurting the bulbs. With your fingers, lift out the bulbs and brush off the dirt, then remove dead foliage with a scissor or pruner.

Curing tulip bulbs is not difficult. If you want to learn how to cure tulip bulbs, simply fill a box or plastic container with sand or peat. Press each bulb into the material until about three-quarters of it is beneath the surface.

Don’t let the bulbs touch each other and do not add water. Place the box in an area with a temperature between 60 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 18 C.). You can use a protected outdoor area or the lower shelf of the refrigerator. The key is not to allow much sunshine into the area you are storing tulip bulbs.

Leave the box in the cool area until autumn. That’s how to cure tulip bulbs. In fall, separate the bulbs, if necessary, and plant them in a bed enriched with organic compost before the first frost. Water them regularly until winter arrives and they go dormant.

The process of lifting, dividing and storing flower bulbs is one of the many secrets to gardening success. Learning to perform these tasks properly will allow you to grow your favorite bulbs year after year without having to buy new ones, and you will actually increase the number of bulbs you have to plant each year.

Guide to Lifting Bulbs

Bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes all provide a way for plants to store energy underground when they are dormant, and there are several reasons for removing these fleshy types of root systems and storing them indoors.

  • In cold winter climates, some bulbs will not survive unless they are removed from the ground and stored in a frost-free place.
  • In very mild winter climates, some bulbs are lifted and artificially chilled so they will bloom the next year.
  • In wet climates, some bulbs are prone to rotting while they are dormant.
  • If a plant produces more foliage than flowers, that’s a sign that it needs to be divided and replanted.

Bulbs and Temperature

Summer-blooming and fall-blooming bulbs often need to be lifted in areas with cold winters. You could treat them as annuals and buy new bulbs every spring, but that can be quite expensive. You also can’t be sure that you will be able to buy your favorite cultivar again since garden centers do not always sell the same varieties every year. Potted bulbs feel the cold far more than bulbs in the ground because of their elevated, exposed location, so these bulbs are often removed from the soil and stored during winter.

Each bulb has its own specific level of cold tolerance, so you should check the bulb’s requirements with your supplier or ask local gardeners which bulbs to lift. Calla lilies, cannas, gladioli, elephant ear, dahlia, and similar bulbs and tubers are all examples of bulbs that have to be lifted in zone 6 or colder, but local conditions can vary.

Timing

Most flower bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes should not be lifted until the foliage has withered and the bulb is dormant, at least six weeks after flowering. Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers are usually not lifted until after the first hard frost has left the foliage blackened and withered. That’s because the frost seals the tissue of the foliage and helps prevent fungal diseases. Although the foliage may look shabby after flowering is complete, it is critical to leave it in place so the plant can photosynthesize as much as possible and store up energy in its roots for abundant flowering the following year.

How to Lift and Store Flower Bulbs

Follow these step-by-step instructions for removing bulbs from the ground without damaging them so you can successfully store them for replanting later.

  1. Push a garden fork into the soil around the periphery of the bulbs and pry up gently on all sides. Some bulbs are buried up to 8 inches below the surface, so it may take some work to loosen the soil to an adequate depth. The goal is to lift the bulbs to the surface without cutting into them, so it’s usually best to sift through the loose soil with your hands to find them all. You could also use a spade, but you are more likely to cut into a bulb this way.
  2. Use garden scissors to trim off the roots and any remaining foliage.
  3. Rub off the loose soil by hand and then clean the bulbs with a garden hose. With large quantities of bulbs, it’s easier if you spread them on a screen made of hardware cloth so the water can drip through. Or, you can place them in a bucket of water and loosen the caked soil by hand if needed. You can also gently brush off any dried “skin” on the surface of the bulb. Removing the dirt, roots, and outer skin of the bulb helps prevent the bulbs from rotting while they are in storage. Throw away any bulbs that are damaged or diseased. Soft bulbs should not be saved.
  4. Divide small bulblets, also called offsets, from the larger bulbs by gently pulling them apart. If you replant them next year, they will grow larger. Most offsets need two or three seasons of growth before they are mature enough to bloom.
  5. Spread the bulbs far enough apart on a drying rack so that no bulb touches another one. A baker’s cooling rack, some hardware cloth nailed to a square of 2″ x 4″ board, or an old window screen set on blocks all make decent drying racks. Let the bulbs dry for a day or two in a well-ventilated area and make sure they don’t freeze.
  6. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry location. The ideal storage space maintains a steady temperature of about 45°, and many gardeners store bulbs in an unheated basement. You can place bulbs in burlap bags, net produce bags, or even old pantyhose and hang them from the ceiling so they have good air circulation and won’t become moldy. Alternatively, you can layer them in dry peat moss, vermiculite or clean, dry sand in a paper bag or a cardboard box.
  7. Check the bulbs occasionally over the winter and throw out any that have become soft or moldy. Don’t worry if they’re shriveled and dry. They’ll be ready to plant in the spring.

Tips for Success

A few extra pointers can make the process go smoother and ensure that you end up with great bulb plantings year after year.

  • If you plan to lift different kinds of bulbs, or bulbs with different colors, be sure to keep them separated after you’ve taken them out of the ground. It’s very easy to mix up bulbs, and you may end up with surprises in your garden next year if the bulbs aren’t correctly identified.
  • Categorize the bulbs and their offsets according to size (i.e. small, medium and large) and store them separately. You can then replant the largest bulbs in a prime garden location to showcase the abundant flowers that come from them. Smaller bulbs which will produce few or no flowers can be planted in out-of-the-way nursery beds to mature.
  • To ensure that disease does not break out while the bulbs are in storage, use a soft paintbrush to dust them with fungicide after they have dried.

Elevate Your Gardening to the Next Level

Lifting and storing bulbs is one of those little tricks that elevates beginning gardeners to the next level. Going the extra mile ensures that you won’t be disappointed with poor bulb performance, and you’ll be sure to have spectacular flower beds year after year.

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