Growing & Planting Tulips

Tulip Care Guide

Guide to growing and planting tulips. When and how to plant tulip bulbs. Tulip bulb care and gardening tips. Pictures of beautiful tulips.

Tulips planted in containers and rasised beds.

When to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Fall through early winter is the best time to plant tulips. Order the bulbs by late summer for planting in September, October, or November.

If these spring bloomers are planted too early, they may sprout before the last frost. In most varieties, the new growth is tender and vulnerable to freezing.

This is why most tulip bulbs are lifted and stored after they finish blooming.

If you want plants you can leave in the ground and grow like other perennials, stick with the hardy Tulipa greigii and T. kaufmanniana hybrids.

Tulip Bulb Ordering Tip:

You can place bulb orders earlier in the growing season, if you like; online nurseries will ship the bulbs at the right time for planting in your zone.

Early ordering will ensure that you get the varieties you desire before they sell out for the season.

Order Tulips at Low Prices Here

How to Plant Tulips

New tulips introduced at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show.

New Tulips Introduced at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show

Plant tulip bulbs in holes 4 inches deep and wide enough to allow 3-5 inches between bulbs. Plant them so that the tapered end of the bulb is facing up and the opposite end is resting firmly against the soil.

Add sand to the bottom of the hole prior to setting the bulbs in if drainage is poor and mix in a bit of bone meal.

Firm the soil once the bulbs have been covered and water them. If winters are dry where you live, you will need to water the planting area periodically until the spring rains begin.

Tips for Planting Tulips:

  • Only plant firm bulbs that have not begun to grow.
  • Discard moldy bulbs or those with black spots.
  • Plant smaller bulbs in the soil directly above the tulips. You can also sow the seeds of small annuals here.

In zones where the ground freezes and thaws repeatedly throughout the winter, protect the newly planted tulip bulbs with a blanket of mulch.

Tulip Care

'Ballerina' tulip plants, a new introduction for 2012.

The orange 'Ballerina' Tulip, a new introduction for 2012, prefers sandy soil.

Cold Treating Tulip Bulbs

Place clean bulbs inside a paper bag and refrigerate them (away from fruit) for 8-10 weeks to provide them with the winter chilling hours they require in order to bloom.

Plant the cold treated bulbs in late October or November.

Note: Amaryllis is a great substitute for tulips in deep south gardens.

Tulip plants perform best in USDA zones 3-8. If you wish to grow them in warmer areas, you will need to cold treat the bulbs before planting them in part shade.

In the colder end of their growing range, tulips bloom best if sited in full sun.

Tulips that are going to be lifted and stored do not need to be fed during growth or bloom. Perennial types that will be left in the ground should be fertilized just after the flowers fade.

Once the blooms go over, deadhead the plants but leave the foliage to shrivel and dry in place. Once the leaves have died, you may lift the bulbs and prepare them for storage.

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Related Pages:

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