growing tulips

Growing Tulips


Quick Facts for Growing Tulips:

Common name: Tulip
Botanical name: Tulipa
Group: Bulbous perennial
Flowering time: Usually March to May
Planting time: August or September
Height: Varies, from 15cm (6in) to 75cm (30in); spread: 15cm (6in)
Aspect: Full sun
Hardiness: Fully hardy
Difficulty: Easy

Grow Tulips for Spring Color

Growing tulips for your own ‘tulip festival’ can reward you with gorgeous spring color.  The best place to start, if you’re new to tulips, is by studying bulb catalogs. Check for these online, and have them mailed to you. You’ll find a lot of creative inspiration, planting advice, and ideas for color combinations. Your local garden center can also provide tips and suggestions.

growing TulipsThere are so many species of tulips that they are divided into 15 categories.

The categories are Single Early, Double Early, Triumph, Darwin Hybrid, Single Late, Lily-flowered, Fringed,Viridiflora, Rembrandt, Parrot, Double Late, Kaufmanniana, Fosteriana, Griegii and Wild Tulips.

They are all different from one another in terms of time of blooming and flower shape.

Some are single, others with double petals. Petals can be solid, fringed, pointed or curled. Colors can be solid, variegated, bold or subtle. With so many choices, just choosing the your bulbs can be a time consuming yet fun task!

Tulips should be planted for masses of solid color. While the reds, yellows, oranges and pinks will be dramatic, white tulips will add a softer touch. Dark colors such as black and deep purples will tone down the drama.

Plant taller varieties towards the back of your bed, and shorter ones in front. Consider interspersing bulbs such as narcissi between the tulips. This can help deter squirrels from digging up the bulbs if they’re a pest in your area.

growing tulipsOrder or buy your bulbs by September, and store them in a cool dry and ventilated place. Plant them before the first frost, and plant all of them, as they won’t keep until next year.

Before you plant, consider the soil. Tulips like a looser sandy soil, that drains well. If necessary, add some sand to the area you’re going to plant, or if your soil is heavy and retains moisture, consider a raised bed. Tulips love sun, so the bed should be located in a sunny spot.

So there is room for the roots to develop, the bulbs should be placed 4 inches apart, but planted in a group.  Dig holes, or a large wide hole, about 7 inches deep, and sprinkle in a bone meal fertilizer.

Use only healthy bulbs – discard any that are damaged or show mould. Set the bulbs evenly in position, pointed ends up.
growing tulips
Don’t worry if some tip sideways – plants will always grow opposite to gravity! Sprinkling a bit of bone meal on top of the planting area will also deter those pesky squirrels.

Partly fill the hole, and water it thoroughly. Finish covering the bulbs, wash up, and wait for your gorgeous display of spring color.

How to Encourage Reflowering

Many people choose to replace their tulip bulbs each fall. If the bedding type of tulips are left in the ground, they often will not re-flower the following year.

Instead of discarding old tulip bulbs, instead lift and dry them after they have flowered.

Here’s how:

  • Deadhead the blooms, and wait until the foliage turns yellow before you lift the bulbs.
  • Clean any soil off the bulbs, and discard any that are damaged.
  • Allow to dry thoroughly
  • Store the bulbs in net bags or in trays in a warm and dark place.
  • Replant in the Autumn

Species tulips like dwarfs and hybrids often re-flower without lifting. The only time you’ll need to lift these is when the clumps appear to be overcrowded.


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